Mikulski: Congress didn’t cut NASA’s exploration budget

I received an email this afternoon from the communications director for Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who wanted to respond “to some inaccurate
information circulating through the Space community” about the final FY2007 NASA budget. They key points, directly from that message:

– In fiscal year 2006, Congress provided a funding level of $3.05 billion for exploration systems.

— In the fiscal year 2007 CR, Congress provided $3.4 billion. In addition, NASA also has discretion over $86 million in funding for one time projects that were not continued in the CR. Therefore, in fiscal year 2007, NASA has been provided with a $436 million increase for exploration systems.

— While Congress was unable to fund exploration systems at the 2007 requested level due to the funding constraints of a CR, they were able to provide an increase, not a cut.

— The funding levels contained in the CR are sufficient to prevent any major program disruptions in 2007. Furthermore, the legislation specifically prohibits NASA from implementing any layoffs or reduction in forces at any NASA center during this fiscal year.

The logic is clear, however, the problem is that NASA had been planning on an even bigger increase than what Congress eventually approved, hence all the discussion of a “cut”. (It is reminiscent of comments made last year by Mike Griffin, who said that science program budgets had not been cut, only their rate of growth; cold comfort for those researchers who had been counting on the bigger increases.) The message concludes that Mikulski, who chairs the appropriations subcommittee with oversight of NASA, “will continue to look for opportunities to support NASA through the 2008 spending bill.”

2 comments to Mikulski: Congress didn’t cut NASA’s exploration budget

  • anonymous

    On top of Mr. Foust’s point about Mikulski’s staff spinning “cuts” to the President’s budget request as “increases” over the prior year’s amount, the second point in the email is also typical budget spin. Just because $86 million in earmarks in the 2006 exploration budget are not continued in 2007, does not mean that exploration actually has another $86 million to spend in 2007 on planned programs like Ares 1/Orion. It just means that exploration won’t have to redirect another $86 million away from planned programs in 2007 to pay for various congressmen’s pet earmarks.

    As much as I may disagree with direction of ESMD, most earmarks are disgusting wastes of taxypayer dollars, and the way congressional offices spin these earmarks is very misleading.

    Finally, I’ll note that the last point in the email is very telling about what the exploration effort has devolved to — an effort to avoid “major program disruptions” and “layoffs or reduction in forces at any NASA center” versus getting actual human space exploration underway.


  • It also depends on whether it’s a goose or a gander. I’ll bet Senator Mikulski is one of the first ones to cry “cut!” when the Republicans try to slow down the rate of increase of a social program.

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