Opening Statement of Ranking Member Serrano at CJS Hearing on NASA FY2019 Budget Request
Thank you, Chairman Culberson, and I would like to join you in welcoming the NASA Acting Administrator, Mr. Robert Lightfoot, to the subcommittee. I was saddened to learn of your impending departure from the agency, and I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your dedication and service to our nation.
NASA is in charge of conducting civilian space activities and science and aeronautics research. I am a strong supporter of NASA and believe that its programs help America maintain itself as the world leader in space exploration and in the scientific arenas that develop those technologies. Not only do NASA’s missions inspire so many people around the world, but they also help us innovate and address challenges that confront our Nation.
The President’s budget blueprint for fiscal year 2019 requests $19.9 billion for NASA, which is an $844 million decrease from the 2018 enacted level. While NASA provides funding for a number of science and exploration activities, the budget proposal reduces funding for a number of important areas. I am particularly concerned that although funding is continued for the education activities of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, this request zeroes out funding for three longstanding programs within NASA’s Office of Education that help inspire the next generation of scientists. I strongly oppose the elimination of these programs. Mr. Chairman, I hope that we can work together in a bipartisan manner to preserve these programs that so greatly benefit the American people, just as we did for FY 2018.
I would further like to call attention to President Trump’s inadequate request for Earth Science, which is a cut of $136.8 million below fiscal year 2018. We need to place a high priority on NASA’s Earth Science research, and I look forward to discussing this topic further today.
In addition, I am concerned by the intent to eliminate the Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST). This project received $150 million in FY 2018 and was ranked as the highest scientific priority space astrophysics mission by the 2010 Decadal Survey. We need to have a serious conversation on this project.
I also look forward to hearing from Acting Administrator Lightfoot on NASA’s long-term plans for human space exploration, which will require significant amounts of money for research on advanced communications systems; entry, descent, and landing capabilities; and ways to protect astronaut health during long deep-space missions; among other things. All of these improvements will require massive amounts of money over a long period.
Lastly, Mr. Chairman, as you very well know, I am also a strong supporter of the Arecibo Observatory and believe that we must maintain strong support for its mission. NASA’s FY 2019 budget request includes funding for NASA activities at the Observatory, and I would like to hear more about this work.
NASA helps drive scientific research and innovation in our Nation. For almost 60 years, our country has stood behind NASA by making investments to explore space and the cosmos, as well as to research our own planet and to develop cutting-edge aeronautics technologies.
Thank you once again, Acting Administrator Lightfoot, for joining us today, and I look forward to discussing these important issues with you.
Congressman José E. Serrano has represented The Bronx in Congress since 1990.