Lawmakers begin push to Stop NASA from canceling Constellation - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

AL and FL Lawmakers begin push to Stop NASA from canceling Constellation

WASHINGTON D.C., (WAFF) -  U.S. Senators George LeMieux (R-FL) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL)  launched an effort to prohibit the termination of the Constellation Program, NASA's program to replace the soon-to-be-retired space shuttle Thursday.

The amendment to the FAA Reauthorization bill reiterates federal law prohibiting NASA from using funds in FY2010 to cancel Constellation contracts. Joining LeMieux and Sessions in the effort are Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Bob Bennett (R-UT).

"NASA is ignoring the will of Congress by taking steps to terminate the Constellation program. This effort sends the clear message that there are no loopholes, exclusions, or other routes the agency can use to kill the program," said LeMieux. "The ultimate determination on the future of the space program rests with Congress, not a budget proposal submitted by the administration."

"The president's proposal to cut funding for the Constellation program would reverse nearly 50 years of U.S. space policy and would effectively end the United State's leadership role in space. His plan cannot be justified as a cost-saving measure, as some have suggested, because it simply transfers spending to other programs rather than cutting spending overall," Sessions said.

"A policy change of this magnitude—determining the future of U.S. manned space flight—should rest with Congress, and not be decided based solely on a budget proposal. This important amendment would block the president's effort to kill Constellation, and would clarify that NASA cannot end the program without Congress, which is accountable to the voters, affirmatively making that decision."

Without Constellation, the United States will be reliant on Russia for any manned space missions. The amendment would also waive Anti-Deficiency Act provisions cited by the Administrator as justification for setting aside funding and stalling additional work on Constellation.

It would also require a study to review the current Constellation contracts, and would prohibit any efforts to cancel contracts necessary for the support of the remaining shuttle flights.

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