Press Release

Senator Mikulski Pledges to fight to restore Senate-funded initiatives

By SpaceRef Editor
June 21, 2008
Filed under ,
Senator Mikulski Pledges to fight to restore Senate-funded initiatives

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee, condemned the cuts made by the House of Representatives to the domestic portion of the emergency supplemental package, which is expected to receive a vote in the House tonight. Specifically, Senator Mikulski is frustrated with cuts to critical investments proposed by the Senate for fisheries disasters, Byrne formula grants administered through the Department of Justice (DOJ), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Science Foundation (NSF).


The House denies all funding for the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to fund Commercial Fishery Disaster Assistance, despite Chairwoman Mikulski’s inclusion of $75 million. This means there is no funding available for pending fisheries disaster requests, including Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s request for a disaster declaration for the Chesapeake Bay blue crab.

“I am disappointed that the House has eliminated this critical investment. Without funds in the federal checkbook, Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez has no funding source when and if he approves the disaster requests for the Gulf Coast, New England and my home state of Maryland,” said Chairwoman Mikulski. “This is about lives and livelihoods in a struggling economy. My fight is not over – and I will use my fiscal year 2009 CJS bill to right this wrong.”


Citing the growing rise in crime and responsibility for local law enforcement, Chairwoman Mikulski provided an additional $490 million for Byrne formula grants in the Senate-passed bill, which would have restored funding for the program to its fiscal year 2008 level. This effort had bipartisan support, with 56 Senators advocating for the increase. Chairwoman Mikulski has pointed to the President’s request for an additional $603 million to train Iraqi police as hypocritical, given his trend of underfunding state and local law enforcement. Since 2005, the administration has spent $5.5 billion on the training of Iraqi police, while it has slashed funding for state and local law enforcement in America.

“The rise in violent crime and the critical ongoing fight against terrorism have placed new pressure on the law enforcement agencies working hard every day to keep our nation and our neighborhoods safe,” said Chairwoman Mikulski. “While President Bush requests billions of dollars for the war in Iraq, his domestic spending continues to shortchange our safety at home. I have heard from state and local police around the country that the consequences of these funding cuts will be fewer cops on our streets fighting gangs, drugs, and child predators and fewer prosecutions of criminals. If we can provide resources to the police in Iraq, we should support our cops on the beat here at home.”

NASA: $137.5 million cut

In two different efforts, Chairwoman Mikulski has attempted to secure $1 billion for NASA for costs related to the return to flight of the space shuttle following the loss of the space shuttle Columbia. In 1987, Congress allocated $2.7 billion in the aftermath of the Challenger tragedy to pay for a replacement shuttle. In the aftermath of the Columbia tragedy, however, NASA was not given any additional funding to repair the remaining shuttles. To date, NASA has already spent $2.7 billion to make safety modifications to the remaining shuttle fleet. The Senate-passed bill included $200 million for NASA to help pay back the costs and restore cuts to science, aeronautics and exploration programs that were cut in order to pay for the return to flight.

“NASA was hit with a terrible tragedy with the loss of Columbia. The agency was never fully reimbursed and was forced to make dramatic cuts to other programs,” said Chairwoman Mikulski. “I am committed to restoring this agency’s budget to ensure the continued safety of our astronauts, and to supporting the critical programs that are the hallmarks of their success.” NSF: $137.5 million cut

As an original sponsor of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act of 2007, Chairwoman Mikulski understands the importance of investments in basic research and science education. The Senate-passed bill contained $200 million for NSF to support research grants in the basic sciences and to increase NSF scholarship funding. Investments in basic research are critically important to the long-term competitiveness of the U.S. economy by creating new technologies, new industries and higher paying jobs.

“Right now, our nation is in an amazing race – a race for discovery and new knowledge. We’re in a race to remain competitive and to foster an innovation society, to create new ideas that lead to new breakthroughs, new products and new jobs. Our country must remain an innovation economy, because a country that doesn’t innovate, stagnates,” said Chairwoman Mikulski. “I want America to win the Nobel prizes and the markets. The America COMPETES Act helped set the framework, yet we continue to underfund the programs we set out to create and improve.”

SpaceRef staff editor.