New Administrator Defends NASA’s FY 2019 Budget To Senate Appropriators

2018-05-29T16:52:27+00:00 May 29, 2018|

(Credit: Tom Kimmell)

From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff 

What It Was

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) held a hearing to review the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget.

Why It Matters

While space exploration is NASA’s most well-known mission, the agency is responsible for much more, including observations of the ocean and atmosphere, satellite maintenance, aeronautics innovation, technology development, and science education. Ensuring robust funding for the agency is important for the economy, our security, and maintaining our place as global leaders in science and innovation.

 

Key Points

The president released his budget request in February, which included $19.9 billion for NASA ($844 million below current FY 2018 funding levels and $1.65 billion below the recently-released House CJS appropriations bill). The proposal includes cuts to Earth science ($137 million and $116 million below the FY 2018 omnibus and House CJS appropriations bill, respectively) and the zeroing out of the Office of Education and five science missions (e.g., the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3) experiment and the plankton, aerosol, cloud, ocean ecosystem (PACE) satellite).

There was bipartisan agreement from committee members that the agency’s education program is vital to U.S. science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Administrator Jim Bridenstine concurred, and although the president’s budget proposal would eliminate the Office of Education, he assured the subcommittee that the zeroed-out program could be kept afloat by redirecting operational funds. He further stated, “NASA will focus on creating unique opportunities for students to contribute to NASA’s work in exploration and discovery; building a diverse future STEM workforce by engaging students in authentic learning experiences with NASA’s people, content, and facilities; and strengthening understanding by enabling powerful connections to NASA’s mission and work.”

Mr. Bridenstine affirmed his commitment to science—including NASA’s climate science—and admitted he no longer denies the main cause of climate change, asserting, “The National Climate Assessment has clearly stated that it is extremely likely… that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming, and I have no reason to doubt the science that comes from that.” This came as a relief to many Democrats who voiced opposition to his nomination because he questioned humans’ role in climate change, going so far as to incorrectly state, in 2013, that global temperatures had stopped rising a decade before .

Quotable

“We need to make sure that NASA is continuing to do [Earth] science, and we need to make sure that this science is void and free from partisan or political kind of rhetoric.” – Mr. Jim Bridenstine, administrator, NASA

“We both agree on the important role NASA plays in inspiring students –the future engineers, mathematicians, scientists and innovators of tomorrow… [the request] arguably sidelines the very programs at NASA that capitalize on its success and benefit involvement in STEM education from kindergarten to graduate students.” – Chairman Jerry Moran (KS)

“We are committed to education; we are committed to inspiration. I believe in it 100 percent. NASA will do that regardless of that particular budget line.” – Mr. Jim Bridenstine, administrator, NASA

Next Steps

Senate appropriators will use this information when drafting their CJS appropriations bill. Congress has until September 30 to fund the government for FY 2019.

Find Out More

Watch the full hearing

 

Related coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership

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