Cochran: Committee-approved funding should advance NASA’s missions

WASHINGTON — Funding outlined for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) by the Senate Appropriations Committee for the upcoming fiscal year should enable the space agency to advance its post-Space Shuttle missions, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) says.

Cochran is vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee that has approved the FY2013 Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill, which provides funding for NASA. The legislation also provides discretionary funding for other programs of importance to Mississippi such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Justice Department law enforcement assistance grants programs.

Adhering to the Budget Control Act, the Senate’s FY2013 CJS Appropriations Bill totals $51.8 billion, which is $880 million less than current funding. The Senate bill terminates 17 programs, consolidates 15 additional programs and makes significant funding cuts to others.

“The appropriations process in the Senate is just starting, but I believe this measure will allow NASA and other agencies to meet their responsibilities despite necessary and difficult funding restrictions,” Cochran said. “I am pleased with the recommended funding for NASA and what it could mean for the rocket engine testing carried out at the Stennis Space Center. I look forward to consideration of the bill by the full Senate.”

The measure recommends $19.4 billion for NASA, which amounts to a $1.6 billion increase above FY2012 funding. The increase is primarily due to shifting the NOAA satellite program to NASA.

The committee-approved bill contains $1.48 billion for NASA’s Space Launch System, $21 million less than the FY2012 funding level. The bill provides $100 million to support test facility requirements that had not been properly articulated to Congress at the time of the President’s budget submission related to development of the heavy lift launch vehicle system.

The following items are among the other items of interest to Mississippi in the FY2013 CJS Appropriations Bill:

• NOAA — $3.4 billion in Department of Commerce funding, which is $1.47 billion below FY2012. In addition to transferring the NOAA satellite program to NASA, the Senate bill does not support the administration’s budget request to terminate programs that are important to the Gulf of Mexico. Instead, the bill identifies alternative savings by consolidating management offices and reducing government overhead.

• Federal Bureau of Prisons — $6.8 billion in Justice Department funding for Bureau of Prisons, $269 million above FY2012 level funding. The increased funding in this bill is intended to ensure that federal prisons are adequately and safely staffed and to enable the activation of new prisons, including the activation of a high security facility in Yazoo City.

• State and Local Law Enforcement Activities —  $2.2 billion in Justice Department funding for grants to aid state and local law enforcement, and victims of crime. Within this funding, the bill contains $413 million for Violence Against Women domestic violence and sexual assault grants, $392 million for Bryne-JAG grants, and $248 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants.

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