Press Release

U.S. Rep. Weldon Challenges White House on Space Policy

By SpaceRef Editor
November 7, 2001
Filed under , ,

Representative Dave Weldon (R-FL) issued the following statement at
today’s House Science Committee hearing on the recently released
report of the ISS task force:

There is no doubt that NASA has not
done itself any favors in recent years with mismanagement of ISS and
other key programs, and I find their communication with Capitol Hill
to be significantly lacking. But that does not eliminate one
key fact-NASA is not solely responsible for the problems it faces
today. This report directly states that fact, and this must not
be overlooked.

The Office of Management and Budget
(OMB) has put a stranglehold on this agency for the past decade and
we are seeing the fruit of such micromangement. OMB has been
the driving force behind NASA’s policy for far too many years, and we
now need the White House to provide substantial leadership for our
nation’s vision of the exploration of space. Despite my strong
support for the Bush Administration in many other policy arenas, they
have failed to provide even a minimum level of the leadership needed
on civil space policy. Frankly, I haven’t even gotten a
straight answer on who I should call at the White House to voice my
concerns about space policy, and multiple letters on this topic have
gone unanswered.

So my frustration increases when I
see this type of report, one that was put together in a mere 8
weeks. It contradicts itself in some key areas such as
suggesting decreased Shuttle flight rates to save money while
suggesting elsewhere that Shuttle flight rates need to increase as a
way to compensate for the workload of a 3-man crew on ISS.

We find our nation on the verge of
ending up with a bargain basement Space Station with a 3-person
capability and little real science, rather than a world class
research facility. OMB has left some serious questions
unanswered with this new plan, such as how will our International
partners respond to this unilateral decision on OMB’s part?
Additionally, OMB needs to provide this Committee with a better
understanding of what policy framework-if any-is used to assess the
relative value of ISS, the Space Shuttle, space science, and
aeronautics as the Administration makes budgetary decisions.
I’ve yet to hear from anybody in the White House besides today’s OMB
witness about any space policy whatsoever.

It would obviously help to have a
new administrator for the agency to assist in constructing a new
overall policy. Seeing first hand, however, OMB’s iron grip
upon NASA, I understand why many have already turned down the
job. Budgeteers are slowly killing space exploration but in the
end it will have President Bush’s fingerprints on it.

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SpaceRef staff editor.