Mikulski Wants More Money for NASA

Sen. Barbara Mikulski
Sen. Barbara Mikulski

Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski doesn’t much like President Obama’s proposed $18.5 billion budget for NASA. And she likes the House Science Committee’s budget even less.

“Although I appreciated what the president advised, I found that the funding for the space program needed to be more robust,” she said. “It’s too spartan and it’s too skimpy.”

Mikulski argued that, despite recent increases, NASA was still underfunded. The 2016 request “is actually less than when Al Gore was vice president,” once corrected for inflation, she said. In fiscal year 2001, the last budget approved while Gore was in office, NASA received $14.2 billion, or nearly $19 billion in present-day dollars….

Mikulski’s promise to increase NASA’s budget puts her on a collision course with the House. While appropriators there have yet to take up a spending bill that includes NASA, an authorization bill to be marked up by the House Science Committee April 30 would offer $18.5 billion for NASA in 2016, the same amount as the administration’s request. That House bill, though, would transfer funds from Earth science and space technology programs to planetary science, the Space Launch System, and Orion.

“They are obsessed with human spaceflight and going to Mars,” she said of the House. She said that while she supported human spaceflight as well, she sought a more balanced program. “We also need space science and the kind of discovery done by technology to lay the groundwork for human discovery.”

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