|17 April 1997
Letter sent from National Space Society Headquarters to all legislators (House and Senate) regarding stabilization of NASA budget
|April 17, 1997
Dear (Senator or Rep.) (name):
I write to you regarding the Administration's budget request for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Last year, the White House proposed cutting spending for the space agency by nearly $1 billion in FY 1998, $1 billion in FY 1999, and $1 billion in FY 2000. Spending would then increase by $1.6 billion over the next two years (numbers adjusted for inflation).
The Administration's proposal caused wide-spread alarm. If implemented, major science and technology programs would have to be cancelled, severely harming America's space program. In response, members of Congress, the aerospace industry and grassroots organizations like ours called for a space summit to discuss ways to provide more funding in the out-year to avoid catastrophe.
The Administration subsequently revised its numbers for this year's budget plan. NASA's budget now is reduced by a half billion in FY 1998, another half billion in FY 1999, a half billion in FY 2000, and $300 million in FY 2001 and FY 2002.
Some members of Congress announced that NASA's budget troubles were over and there was no need for a summit. Calls for a space summit subsequently were cancelled.
The National Space Society strongly disagrees with this turn of events. We believe the NASA out-year budget remains in crisis. While the Administration's new budget is less severe, it promises to cut spending for NASA by more than $2 billion over the next five years! Funding for the space agency already has been cut each of the past five years, and future budgets continue to shrink the agency. Contrary to the Administration's statement, the new budget does not settle the "original concerns over out-year stability."
The Administration proposes to spend $13.2 billion for NASA in 2000, 2001, and 2002, with no adjustment for inflation. Proponents of the White House budget argue that the new budget stabilizes funding. But this is not the case. Inflation will continue to eat away at NASA. To neglect cost-of-living increases in the analysis of NASA's budget is disingenuous; the President's proposals fail to accurately describe the space agency's future budget situation.
NASA's financial troubles are not over. Congress and the Administration continue to perilously reduce America's investment in science and technology. Since 1993, our nation's R&D funding has declined in real terms and continues a downward slide in the Administration's budget. At the same time, many other countries are rapidly expanding their support for R&D. The world is becoming increasingly competitive.
To ensure our nation's economic future, we must invest more -- not less -- in science and technology, which means fully funding NASA, instead of crippling the agency with an additional $2 billion in cuts.
Americans do not want to see their space program harmed. The White House budget does not stabilize spending for NASA, and proposed cutbacks undermine our nation's leadership in science and technology.
On behalf of the membership of the National Space Society, I urge you to look to America's future. For our national security and the future of our children, we must adequately invest in science and technology. Through this kind of research, we gain the answers we need to make it possible for humans to safely travel further distances through space -- part of the vision of our organization.
The first step on this journey is to reverse the decline in R&D investment and stabilize NASA's budget at the current level of spending, with full adjustments made for inflation. Any other course does not -- and should not -- settle concerns about NASA's out-year budgets.