NSS Urges Congress to Follow House Science Committee Lead: Reverse R&D Decline
|(Washington, DC) --
March 31 -- The National Space Society today called on members of
Congress to follow the House Science Committee's recommendation to
boost science and technology funding in 1998 by at least three
"The Science Committee has taken the first step to reverse our nation's perilous decline in R&D investment," said David Brandt, Executive Director of the NSS. "Now it's up to the rest of Congress to follow suit to protect America's future economic health."
The recommendation to increase spending is contained in the Committee's "Views and Estimates," a document submitted by the Committee to the House Budget Committee to help formulate the overall federal budget for 1998.
Actual amounts for specific science programs were not detailed by the Science Committee, but additional spending would go to "basic research, scientific infrastructure, and for selected NASA and environmental programs." To partially offset the increases, the Committee said "funding for other programs within its jurisdiction will need to be maintained at current levels or slightly decreased."
Members of the Science Committee announced they support full funding for the International Space Station, the Reusable Launch Vehicle programs, and Space Science. Democrats, representing a minority view, proposed a five-percent increase in spending for science and technology. The additional funds would "support a balanced program [for NASA] that includes the priorities identified in NASA's strategic plan."
The Administration is seeking to spend $13.5 billion for NASA in 1998 -- a $500 million cut from this year's budget when adjusting for inflation. The White House last year proposed spending $13.097 billion for 1998, but later revised its position.
In the "Ways and Means" document, Science Committee members said they "were disappointed that the President again proposed to decrease NASA's budget to $13.5 billion, [although] the Administration did improve their projections for the outyears in the Fiscal Year 1998 request." Every year since 1992, funding for NASA has been reduced. The Administration is seeking to cut the space agency's budget by an additional $2 billion the next five years.
"The White House cutbacks undermine America's space program and weaken our nation's leadership in advanced technology," Brandt said. "Hopefully the Science Committee's recommendation will gather support and we can avoid the destabilizing cuts."