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Senator Calls for White House Summit on NASA Budget

WASHINGTON-- Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chair of the Senate subcommittee responsible forNASA funding, formally pledged Thursday to again work with Sen. Kay BaileyHutchison (R-Texas) to increase NASAfunding by $1 billion. Mikulski also called for a space summit with the WhiteHouse to ensure NASA gets the support and funding it needs.

"Today,with countries such as China,Iranand others seeking to establish their footprint in space, with a four-year delay inour ability to launch astronautsinto orbit, and the need to maintain a balanced space program and promoteinnovation, we need a new dialogue with the president and the administration,"Mikulski said Thursday during the first NASA budget hearing of the SenateAppropriations commerce, justice and science subcommittee, which she chairs.Mikulski compared the summit to one held 17 years ago under President GeorgeH.W. Bush, which helped pave the way for the creation of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth.

Mikulskiplans to introduce an amendment to the regular NASA spending bill. At theirhearing Thursday, Democrats and Republicans on the House Science Committeeechoed Mikulski's sentiment that NASA is not slated to get enough money infiscal 2008.

"Everyonebears some blame for the funding shortfalls, but the point I want to stress isthat NASA continues to hold to its original schedule for the vision, but doingit with smaller budgets. Consequently, the stress on the agency is enormous,"Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) said at the hearing.

J.P.Stevens, Aerospace Industries Association vice president for space systems,praised Mikulski's efforts, saying "there are a lot of people on either side ofthe aisle that want us to stay in the human space flight business. The more weget together as a bipartisan group working on these issues the more likely weare in 2016 or 2018 to be able to still put a U.S. astronaut into space."

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