Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz slammed a “deeply troubling” proposal to end federal funding to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday.
“As long as Article 1 of the Constitution remains in tact, it will be Congress that is the final arbiter of how long ISS receives federal funding,” Cruz said, stressing the importance of congressional control in spending. “Nowhere in federal statute is there a request from Congress seeking a hard deadline to end federal support for ISS.”
President Donald Trump’s administration reportedly wants to end federal funding by 2025 to ISS, which costs the federal government about $3 to $4 billion a year, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported in February.
Currently, ISS should be “viable through 2028,” said William H. Gerstenmaier, the associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA.
The ISS is “critically important” to the NASA space program during the “Future of the International Space Station” hearing, Cruz, chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, told NASA representatives.
There is “strong bipartisan support” for ISS, Cruz said but questioned the motivations behind the proposal to end funding. “It is my concern that considerations other than the merit of the science drove this decision making process.” (RELATED: NASA Shuts Down Science Competition’s Online Voting After 4chan Trolls Them)
“Prematurely canceling a program for political reasons costs jobs and wastes billions of dollars,” he added. “We cannot afford to continue to pursue policies that have consequences of creating gaps in capability, that send three and a half billion dollars in taxpayer money to the Russian government, or that create a leadership vacuum in low-earth orbit that provides a window of opportunity for the Chinese to capitalize on it.”
China, Cruz noted, will have a manned space station by 2022.
“To be clear, NASA is not abandoning low-earth orbit,” Gerstenmaier said. “We must ensure the right pieces are in place to maintain an operational human presence in low-earth orbit, whether through a modified ISS program, commercial platforms or some combination of both.”
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