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NASA Budget Brawl Erupts Between Lawmakers, Bush

By | June 25, 2007

      President Bush has stiff-armed Capitol Hill efforts to bolster funding for threadbare NASA space exploration, science and aeronautics, some members of Congress complained.

      In an administration letter, Bush refused to meet with them to discuss ways to finance the critical programs, the lawmakers stated.

      Instead, the letter offered a meeting with Robert J. Portman, director of the Office of Management and Budget; John H. Marburger III, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and NASA Administrator Michael Griffin.

      In their letter, Portman and Marburger praised the lawmakers,

      “The president agrees we need an open and candid dialogue on the path forward to sustaining a balanced, robust space program,” the administration letter stated. ” … we, along with Administrator Griffin, would welcome an opportunity to discuss civil space and other important topics in coming weeks, as permitted by your schedule.”

      The lawmakers are Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Colo.), chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, and chairmen of two subcommittees in the panel: Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who heads the space and aeronautics subcommittee, and Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Texas), leading the energy and environment subcommittee.

      In a statement, the three lawmakers said, “We are deeply disappointed that the president has decided not to seize the opportunity to meet with members of Congress to discuss how best to ensure that NASA will have the resources needed to carry out a balanced and robust program of science, aeronautics, and human space flight and exploration initiatives.”

      While the lawmakers said they will soldier on in seeking support for adequate NASA funding, Bush’s rebuff will make that a daunting challenge.

      “We intend to work with NASA supporters on both sides of the aisle in Congress to try to give NASA the resources it will need to carry out the tasks that the nation has asked it to undertake,” the lawmakers said. “However, the president’s disengagement will make that effort immeasurably more difficult.”

      Gordon, Udall and Lampson spent considerable time during the past several months fighting for more NASA funding, including Lampson personally arranging for NASA Administrator Michael Griffin to meet with Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wis.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and other key members, the lawmakers noted.

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