Nelson Details “Devastating” Impacts If NASA Funding Capped at FY2022 Level or Less

Nelson Details “Devastating” Impacts If NASA Funding Capped at FY2022 Level or Less

In a letter to the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson spelled out the “devastating and potentially unrecoverable” impacts if the discretionary portion of the federal budget, which includes NASA, is held to its FY2022 level as House Republicans are proposing.

House Appropriatons Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).

Determined to reduce the deficit, House Republicans want discretionary funding cut back to FY2022 levels with the possible exception of defense and medical care for veterans.

House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) asked Nelson to provide an analysis of the impact on NASA if FY2024 funding is capped at the FY2022 level.

NASA’s FY2024 request is $27.1 billion, a 7.1 percent increase over its FY2023 appropriation of $25.4 billion. Congress appropriated $24.0 billion for FY2022.

However, Nelson postulates that if the Department of Defense and the Department of  Veterans Affairs are exempted and the goal remains keeping total discretionary funding at the FY2022 level, deeper cuts would have to be made in the other parts of the discretionary budget, a reduction of up to 22 percent. That would give NASA just $19.8 billion, Nelson wrote.

“A FY2024 budget level for NASA at 22 percent below the FY2023 enacted level would be $19.8 billion, approximately the same level of NASA’s FY2019 appropriation, and a reduction of $5.6 billion from the FY2023 level. To fund NASA at such a level in FY2024 would have devastating and potentially unrecoverable impacts, upon the objectives that the President and Congress have set for NASA, weaken our Nation’s position as global leader in exploration, science, technology innovation, and discovery.” — Bill Nelson

The March 19 letter goes on to detail the impacts on programs across the agency if the reduction is either to $19.8 billion or if NASA is capped at its FY2022 level of $24.0 billion.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

As an example, the Artemis IV mission would be “substantially delayed” if NASA was capped at FY2022.

Alternatively, if the agency was cut 22 percent, NASA would have to “restructure or terminate currently ongoing major development work for Artemis IV” including Gateway, SLS Block 1B, Mobile Launcher-2 and the second SpaceX Human Landing System contract, and prioritize continuation of Artemis II and Artemis III “with potential delays to those flights.”

Similar impacts would be felt in science, aeronautics, and technology development, as well as personnel and construction.

“NASA missions transcend partisan politics,” Nelson concluded, expressing his “sincere hope that this Congress will recognize the importance of investing in the Nation’s future” and provide the full amount requested by the President for FY2024.

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