The Republican Study Committee (RSC) formally introduced yesterday “Operation Offset”, its proposed collection of budget cuts and related measures designed to pay for hurricane relief without increasing taxes or running up the budget deficit. As previously reported, the proposal calls for cutting “NASA’s New Moon/Mars Initiative”. The program is just one of dozens that the RSC offers up on the chopping block, but unlike most of the others, the report provides little justification for the cut:
In 2004, the President announced a new initiative to explore the Moon and Mars with the goal of returning humans to the Moon by 2020. NASA currently intends to use the savings from phasing out the space shuttle in 2012 to fund this program. Savings: $44 billion over ten years ($11.5 billion over five years)
For nearly all the other programs in the report, the RSC offers some explanation why the program is question is duplicative or otherwise unnecessary, but not so here. Moreover, they’re retiring the shuttle a couple years later than what has been planned all along under the VSE.
The RSC counts about 100 members of Congress in its membership, but that doesn’t mean that all 100 members are in complete agreement on the proposed cuts. Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), a Houston-area Congressman and RSC member, spoke out in particular against the NASA cuts at a press conference, the Houston Chronicle reported. “NASA is one of those programs the American people receive benefits from,” he said.