By Walter Alarkon - 06/10/09 01:52 PM EDT
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) blasted the House's reductions to President Obama's NASA budget proposal, warning that they could hurt U.S. security and the economy.
Hutchison said that the reductions, which total $650.6 million, were "destructive." The biggest proposed reduction made by the House Appropriations Committee is a $566.5 million cut from Obama's request for space exploration funding.
But Hutchison said that waiting to fund the NASA program would lead to layoffs and hurt one of the country's advantages over other countries.
"Having people in space is how we have come so far and have really been able to dominate space," she said.
She said that U.S. manned space travel has helped national security, led to scientific breakthroughs that have helped the economy and improved relations with other countries, whose own space programs have worked with NASA.
"If we take people out of the equation, we will be cutting off the benefits of the huge investment that we've made," she said.
The Commerce-Justice-Science 2010 spending bill that includes NASA funding proposes an $18.2 billion total budget for the space agency. That would be 2 percent larger than the 2009 NASA budget, but it is 3 percent less than what the president had requested.
Hutchison spoke to reporters after meeting with President Obama's nominee to be NASA administrator, Charles Bolden. She said she supports Bolden's nomination and that the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is likely to vote on it next week.