Wolf: U.S. Must Be Number One in Space, Not Cooperate with China

Wolf: U.S. Must Be Number One in Space, Not Cooperate with China

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), ranking member of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, argued passionately today that the United States must be the world’s leader in space and not cooperate with China. His remarks were made at a luncheon sponsored by the Space Transportation Association.

“I oppose cooperation with China, ” he said, citing numerous reasons such as its imprisonment of Catholic and Protestant leaders, its actions in Tibet, and its espionage in the United States. Conceding that “I may be a minority in my own party” in his convictions about China, he urged the audience to “see what they’re doing.” He criticized President Obama’s NASA proposal because he believes it would cede space leadership to China or Russia. Though he declined to state specifically whether he favored the House Science and Technology Committee’s alternative to the Obama plan versus the one in the Senate, or predict how it will all turn out, he called on companies represented at the luncheon to “make the case” for the bipartisan effort put into crafting a compromise to ensure that “America is number one” in space.

Noting that apart from Orbital Sciences Corp, he does not have much space business in his district, he emphasized that his interest in preserving U.S. leadership in space is based on his concern about the loss of U.S. leadership in other areas such as manufacturing. “My interest is less in losing something in my district than my country,” he said.

His frustration with NASA’s unwillingness to answer questions and “backtracking on commercial rockets” was starkly evident, but he said that NASA Administrator Bolden was not to blame.

Predicting that the Republicans will take control of the House in the November elections, he warned against using a lame duck Congress to pass any important legislation since non-returning Members would be focused on finding new jobs rather than national issues. Consequently, most agencies, including NASA, are likely to be funded under a Continuing Resolution (CR) at least until the next Congress convenes in January.

Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX), ranking member of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee, was in the audience and said that the House version of the NASA authorization bill will not come to the House floor this week as hoped. House S&T committee chair Bart Gordon (D-TN) said at the markup last week that they would try to get it to the floor before the House leaves for the August recess on Friday. The House will not return until September 13, an unusually long August recess.

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