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Politics

Florida's Congressional Delegation Takes Bipartisan Stand Against Obama Cuts to NASA

June 24, 2010 - 6:00pm

With President Barack Obama threatening to slash NASAs budget, members of Floridas delegation from both parties continued to speak out last week, warning the White House that these cuts would have a severe impact on the state and the nation.

On Tuesday, 62 members of Congress -- including 13 of Floridas 25 representatives in the U.S. House -- sent a letter to Obama urging the administration to back down from the proposed cuts.

Florida Democrats in the House who signed the letter were Corrine Brown, Alan Grayson,Ron Klein, Suzanne Kosmas and Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Republicans representing the Sunshine State in Congress who signed were Ander Crenshaw, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart, Jeff Miller, Bill Posey, Adam Putnam, Tom Rooney and C.W. Bill Young.

Human space exploration is ingrained in the American psyche, wrote the congressmen. It is part of who we are as explorers, entrepreneurs, scientists and Americans. The proposed Exploration Systems Mission Directorate reduction jeopardizes our country's leadership in space and could put our national security at risk.

The congressmen warned that other nations could catch up to America on space exploration due to the proposed budget cuts.

If we continue with this new space policy, including the outright cancellation of the Constellation program, we are concerned that other countries will forge ahead of us, challenging our space dominance as we literally cede the higher ground to our foreign competitors, wrote the congressmen.

The congressmen also urged the president to back more ambitious space missions.

A robust American deep-space exploration program would ensure that American astronauts explore beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon, Mars or any number of exciting deep-space destinations, wrote the congressmen. Additionally, a renewed focus on heavy-lift vehicles and exploration will inspire our youth, invigorate our work force and protect many jobs in today's difficult economy.

The bipartisanship on the issue is nothing new. U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, a Democrat from the Space Coast, penned editorials with Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson from Texas, urging the president to rescind the cuts.

U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, the former state Senate president who has represented Northern Florida in Congress since being elected in 2000, expressed additional concern on Friday over what Obamas cuts to NASA could mean to the nation and to the state.

The administrations plan to eliminate funding for NASAs Constellation program amounts to short-sighted policy that abdicates Americas responsibility to human space flight and gives competing countries a wider opening to forge ahead where the United States has always led, said Crenshaw. Simultaneously, funding cuts will hurt ongoing research and development of supporting technological projects such as a heavy-lift launch vehicle which could be used for other NASA missions.

Crenshaw stressed that the cuts would have a severe impact in the Sunshine State.

In Florida, an irreplaceable and highly-skilled work force plays an integral role in the development of NASA initiatives, said Crenshaw. There is no reason to lose them -- a move that will damage our industrial base when so much is at stake in the future of manned space exploration.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com, or at (850) 727-0859.

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