Ohio Delegates Hope To Prevent Cuts To NASA Glenn's Budget

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By ideastream’s Brian Bull

As time ticks away for Congress to reach agreement on the omnibus spending bill, supporters of Ohio’s NASA facility in Cleveland hope to keep millions of dollars from being cut from its budget.

NASA Glenn in Cleveland could lose up to $60 million– or nearly 10 percent of its operating budget – if the current Senate legislation gets approved.  The plan is to divert $150 million from several different NASA programs around the country toward a robotic program called “Restore L Pathfinder” being carried out by NASA Goddard in Maryland.

“The idea of being able to go up and refuel or repair a satellite that still has perfectly good lifetime left but is running out of fuel is a very attractive option,” says John Logsdon, Professor Emeritus at George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute. “Something that is attractive to both the civilian and national security space activities.”

Logsdon says one challenge for the NASA budget battle is that it’s a “zero-sum game”, meaning there’s no more money to be added to the space agency’s budget. 

Ohio Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown say they’re working to prevent those cuts to NASA Glenn.  Brown acknowledges it will be tricky, as the Senate Appropriations Committee is led by Democrat Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama.

“It’s always an uphill battle on Appropriations, when two of the major appropriators -one in each party- has a major space facility in their state,” says Brown.  “But we’ve been able to help rescue it in the past and we will work together bipartisanly in Ohio to do it here.”

Congress needs to finalize a spending bill by Friday to prevent a government shutdown.

“It matters for job growth, it matters not just for NASA federal employees, but it matters for all economic benefits that are generated out of NASA -- by private employers that are connected if you will, and by those jobs at NASA itself.  And that’s why this mission’s so important,” adds Brown.

In an emailed statement, Ohio Senator Rob Portman says he also supports the work done at NASA Glenn, and his office is working closely with the facility and Senate appropriators to make sure adequate funding is available.

A NASA Glenn spokesperson declined to comment.

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