Mr. SHELBY. Mr. President, I am pleased to present, with Chairwoman MIKULSKI, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriation bill for fiscal year 2010.
First, I thank Senator Mikulski and her staff for their continued friendship and the hard work they have put into this bill.
This is truly the most diverse appropriations bill we have, literally affecting all the expanses of our planet and into the outer recesses of the universe.
It covers State and local law enforcement and counterterrorism efforts, oceanic and weather research, trade, standards research, and it keeps our Nation competitive through investment in science and space exploration.
This bill funds the Department of Justice and Commerce, as well as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA, the National Science Foundation or NSF; and a number of independent agencies, including the U.S. Trade Representative, the Legal Services Corporation, and International Trade Commission, to name a few.
Nothing is more important than the safety of the American people. The committee's recommendation this evening for the Department of Justice is $27.4 billion, which is $311 million over the request.
Senator Mikulski and I have worked to ensure that Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies receive the funding needed to protect our citizens and our communities.
The Department of Commerce is funded in this bill at $14 billion, $254 million over the requested level. This department contains some of our Nation's most important business development, economic, science and research agencies, including the Economic Development Administration, which we know as the EDA, the National Institutes of Science and Technology or NIST, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which we call NOAA.
Senator Mikulski and I have attempted to expand the foundation for our Nation's economic future, as well as providing researchers with the tools to assess our weather, oceans, and environment.
Of the amount provided to the Department of Commerce in the bill before us, $7.3 billion is for the 2010 census and $4.8 billion for NOAA, an increase of $299 million over the request. These additional funds are directed toward research, observation, education, and conservation programs.
For NASA, this bill provides $18.7 billion to move forward with the Agency's current exploration vision, while fully funding the ongoing activities of the space shuttle and the International Space Station.
We are at a challenging point in time for the funding of NASA, particularly human spaceflight. As you well know, Mr. President, the space shuttle is successfully finishing the required deliveries to the space station in its few remaining flights. The International Space Station has a permanent crew of six, which will allow our astronauts to conduct science instead of just station upkeep.
We are also on the verge of having a test flight of the rockets being developed by NASA to once again take humans beyond low Earth orbit. As NASA moves toward retiring the shuttle and leaving the Nation without our own human launch vehicle, I believe we must continue to develop our own capabilities, not only for missions to the space station but for future expeditions as well.
While I commend the Augustine Commission for their hard work, I find many of the aspects proposed in their summary report to be unsatisfactory and perhaps disappointing.
I am baffled by NASA's path forward on the Constellation Program. This program is built on a foundation of proven technologies using existing capabilities and infrastructure. The Ares I team will soon launch the first test flight, and the groundwork for the Ares V heavy lift vehicle is well underway. And yet, instead of simply providing Constellation with funds to move forward, it is delaying the current mission while seeking to have a do-over on plans that have been authorized by both a Republican
and Democratic Congress.
NASA and this administration should never forget that the support of Congress will still be necessary to authorize and provide funds as we move forward.
Given the challenges and high cost of access to space, I agree that it is beneficial for NASA to look at all viable options that could be provided by U.S. industries to support operations on the International Space Station and future exploration. However, we must do so, I believe, in a realistic way. NASA must support the program that has the greatest likelihood of success.
The benefits that our society has gained from the human spaceflight program are immeasurable. Almost every facet of our lives that we know today has been touched by discoveries with human spaceflight.
Beyond the direct tangible benefits, there is also the intangible benefit that comes with knowing that America is [Page: S10105]
leading the world in discovering and exploring new frontiers.
I will not support any future NASA budget request that does not have a robust human exploration program. It must be a program that inspires, yet is also a program grounded in what is possible and not wishful thinking.
If we no longer prioritize space exploration, we can be certain that others on this planet will. A number of the findings by the Augustine Commission would guarantee that other nations, such as Russia, China, and India, will be waving to us as they fly by the space station on their way to the Moon and other planets if we are not careful. We cannot cede our leadership in space, and we must have a viable human space exploration program.
As we are losing global market shares in most industries, we are still the world leader in human spaceflight. I will not support a NASA that squanders that lead, and I hope the Senate will not. Simply put, if that were to happen, I would not support a visionless NASA, and I do not believe the Congress would.
In conclusion, I thank again Senator Mikulski, the chairwoman of this committee, for her leadership on this bill. We have worked together on many issues throughout our years, both serving together in the House and the Senate, and this bill reflects our strong relationship. I ask my colleagues--as she will--to support this bill and to urge its swift passage this week.