Congress, NASA

Congressman interviewing Congressmen on planetary science

The above is a video posted by the account of Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), dated June 29th but largely ignored until last night, when the congressman tweeted the link to it to a couple of people:

In the video Rep. Polis inteviews a couple of his colleagues, Reps. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) about supporting efforts to reverse proposed cuts in NASA’s planetary sciences program in the administration’s FY13 budget. The video was apparently produced in response to letters collected during a “planetary science shoe shine” last month in Boulder, Colorado, part of a broader effort by planetary scientists (primarily using car washes and bake sales) to win attention to the funding threat those programs are facing.

The video is not high quality (“I’m a better Congressman than videographer,” he tweeted), but Polis gets a few brief comments from Wolf and Schiff. Wolf, who chairs the appropriations subcommittee whose oversight includes NASA, notes that “we have saved Mars, we saved Europa, we saved the planetary program” by adding some funding to the program in the House version of the FY13 appropriations bill. Schiff, who serves on the same subcommittee, thanks those who signed letters in support of the planetary program, saying “it was so helpful yo have your voices heard” on this issue.

3 comments to Congressman interviewing Congressmen on planetary science

  • Dark Blue Nine

    Wolf and his subcommittee havn’t saved anything. No NASA appropriation has been passed by the Senate, which only provided an additional $100 million to the planetary program in committee, not $200 million like the House. And no House bill has been reconciled with the Senate’s version, nevertheless signed into law by the President. Someone is counting their chickens long before they’ve hatched.

    And even if Wolf’s subcommittee mark became law (unlikely given that the Senate mark cuts the increase in half), their draft appropriations bill only adds half of what was cut from the planetary program going from FY 2012 (~$1.5 billion) to FY 2013 (~$1.1 billion) anyway. Although the bulk goes to the Mars program, it’s not enough to accelerate the current planning for a 2018-2020 mission to follow MSL — there’s still going to be near-decade-long hiatus in new Mars missions. And the remainder will only buy studies and low-level technology for a Europa mission, at best.

    It’s a nice gesture to the decadal survey. But in terms of hard programmatics, the amount involved is window dressing. And it’s still months away from passage, assuming a House/Senate budget standoff, a Congress/White House budget standoff, or sequestration doesn’t throw the federal government into months and months of CRs or make major reductions to NASA’s budget. And again, the Senate thinks the increase should be cut in half.

    But hey, why not take credit where credit is not due? Let’s give ourselves a big pat on the back with our smartphones!


  • This is actually quite refreshing. However, I wonder if anyone asked Mr. Wolf how he feels about being fiscally responsible with the planetary science budget.

    I mean the list of missions busting the budget is starting to grow. That is how we save science, by acknowledging that we have failed in some aspects. JWST is a cancer on SMD.

    Andrew Gasser
    TEA Party in Space

  • vulture4

    Wolf knows little about space. This was just an opportunity to look like he is responding to a public concern. Of course he is pouring vastly greater funding into SLS/Orion while still strangling commercial spaceflight and attacking NASA for thinking about talking to China.

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