WASHINGTON – A Senate subcommittee Wednesday restored more than $267 million for the Goddard Space Flight Center, reversing a House cut that could have threatened 1,500 jobs at the Maryland center.
The Goddard money came as part of a sweeping rejection by a Senate Appropriations subcommittee of cuts the full House made last week to funding for the departments of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development and independent agencies.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Baltimore, said she was “extremely troubled” by the House bill and described its cuts to NASA as “devastating.”
“The bill we are marking up today will save those NASA jobs,” said Mikulski, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, in a prepared statement.
The House last week passed a bill that slashed funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration by more than $1 billion, which included the money from Goddard.
The Senate subcommittee Wednesday approved the full $13.5 billion that President Clinton requested for NASA.
The $13.5 billion for NASA provides $5.4 billion for science and technology, including $1.4 billion for earth science. Goddard funding includes $26 million for the Hubble telescope repair mission, $32 million for the Earth Observing System Data Information System (EOSDIS), $7 million for additional uses for EOSDIS data, $500,000 to research air quality in airplanes and $21 million for Sun-Earth Connections.
“I’m on the side of NASA’s employees and the thousands of men and women who work at the Goddard Space Flight Center and other NASA centers around the country,” Mikulski’s statement said.
The full Appropriations Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on the VA/HUD appropriations bill. Mikulski said she expects the full committee to approve the bill and send it to the Senate for a vote, which has not yet been scheduled.
She called the bill “a work in progress” and acknowledged that members may disagree, but said she remains confident that it will win Senate approval and that the House will agree.
If passed by the House and Senate, the bill will go to President Clinton for his signature. The White House has threatened to veto the House version of the appropriations bill.
“We are staying the course [with NASA funding],” Mikulski said. “We are maintaining last year’s funding level. I believe the House will concur.”
The subcommittee’s action was hailed Wednesday by Goddard Director Al Diaz, who praised the work of Mikulski and Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., the subcommittee chairman.
“This is a tremendous vote for NASA, and for the Goddard Space Flight Center,” Diaz said in a prepared statement. “I know that Chairman `Kit’ Bond, ranking member Sen. Mikulski and the rest of the subcommittee had some very difficult choices to make.”