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Failure to Launch: APLU Statement on NASA Authorization Act for 2016 and 2017

Washington, DC – The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today released the following statement regarding the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Authorization Act for 2016 and 2017. The House Science, Space and Technology Committee is marking up the bill today.

“Instead of reaching for the stars, the initial draft of the NASA Authorization Act for 2016 and 2017 falls short of providing the support for the next generation of Earth and space exploration that will allow us to better understand and protect our planet and answer a vast array of fundamental questions regarding the universe. While we appreciate the Committee’s efforts to include aspirational funding levels if a deal is reached to avert the sequestration-level caps scheduled to take effect in FY2016, these levels are still below where we need to be.

“Robust investments in the Science Mission Directorate and the Aeronautics Research Directorate are needed for the U.S. to support these efforts, but unfortunately, this legislation would cut authorization levels for these programs below FY2015 enacted levels. Instead of taking the next giant leaps for mankind, the bill yields to the force of gravity and actually moves the U.S. backward in science investments at the same time our competitor countries are rapidly working to strategically overtake us in space and earth science exploration. This bill would further a growing innovation deficit in which the U.S. unnecessarily forgoes critical investments while other nations make the advancements our researchers should be making.

“Within the Science Mission Directorate, we are concerned about a disproportionate cut to Earth Science, which among other important charges, supports science that improves our prediction of weather and natural hazards. In addition, we are concerned about the proposed stagnant or decreased funding for the Space Technology Directorate. This directorate is only a few years old and is at a critical stage for growth. As our country seeks to advance our space exploration, it is vital we have the technology and pipeline of innovators that will enable us to do so.

“While there are undoubtedly deep concerns about this bill and the missed opportunities it would portend, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee has demonstrated its interest and willingness to listen to different perspective. We welcome the opportunity to work with the committee to improve this bill and help ensure a strong innovation future for our country.”

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