“To prioritize lunar landing, things that are also a priority should be reduced,” Moran, who is also a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told POLITICO. “We will try to provide all the funding needed to keep Artemis on the runway for a planned lunar landing, but it is and will continue to be a challenge.”
For example, he said, “I don’t think our subcommittee or appropriations committee is canceling STEM education so that money can be spent anywhere else.”
The Trump administration announced in March 2019 that it plans to land the next man and first woman on the moon by no later than 2024, increasing the timeline from 2028. Unlike previous Apollo missions, the United States they are preparing to establish a permanent lunar presence, with astronauts orbiting the moon for months to conduct research to help NASA prepare for a future manned mission to Mars.
Trump’s effort to advance the landing by up to four years has also injected the issue with greater partisanship. But Moran insisted that his subcommittee overcame it mostly by focusing on the science that can be driven to the moon.
“Some have experienced skepticism that this is a political effort related to a calendar of election cycles,” he said. “I have no evidence that this is the case. … We were able to overcome it while following science and politics, not politics, of an early return to the moon.”;
Moran also spoke about his group’s plans to mark NASA’s Senate billing, how it will approach final negotiations with the House, and how Apollo’s moon landings sparked personal interest in the Senate. space.
This transcript has been edited for its duration and clarity.
What is the status of the Senate tax credit bill for NASA?
Although we have started and stopped our efforts have been a few pieces. We missed the date when we thought we were going to mark our bill. We are now waiting for a broader agreement between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, so that we can do appropriate work again.
Our bill is not definitively finalized, but we have ideas that we hope to present when we get to the point … [of] making our report to the full committee. Our efforts have been bipartisan. [Subcommittee ranking member] Her. [Jeanne] Shaheen (DN.H.) and I work closely together and develop one [commerce, justice, science and related agencies] bill of application that reflects the shared priorities between Republicans and Democrats. We hope once again to obtain unanimity between the full committee and consideration at the Senate session.
Do you have a new date you signed up for?
There is a consensus building that suggests the appropriations committee will not report the bills to the full senate until after the August entry. … The hope is that we are fully committed to the appropriation process in September.
What are your top priorities for NASA spending in fiscal 2021?
I am an ally of NASA’s desire to return a man and a woman to the moon. … I think speeding up the time period in which this can happen … is helpful in getting NASA and its private partners to focus on a very important mission. I congratulated NASA for developing the idea of going back to the moon. Our credit bills in the past have shown that we not only say we support this mission, but we have also demonstrated it by providing resources to help fulfill this mission. I would expect that in 2021, our bill will once again reflect that goal of this aspiration.
They provide us with an amount of money within our jurisdiction to spend money. NASA is an important component of our jurisdiction, but even within NASA’s budget, it’s also important for me to spend on things that are also important, in addition to lunar effort.
The budget proposed by NASA for fiscal year 2021 … proposed a budget reduction of about $ 1 billion in funding for ongoing programs. To prioritize the lunar landing, things would have to be reduced, which are also a priority. I understand and value importance, for example [science, technology, engineering and math] education. Whether for political or political reasons, I do not think our subcommittee or appropriations committee is canceling STEM education so that money can be spent elsewhere.
We still have to find the right balance in everything [the subcommittee’s] jurisdiction, but even within NASA’s expense. As a Kansan, I come from a state where aviation is of great importance. NASA’s first “A” is aeronautics, and it’s also a very important component of NASA’s priority and focus. We will have to find ways to find the right balance while still trying to advance the goal of reaching the moon
Is there support for the 2024 lunar landing bipartisanship on your committee?
It usually is. Some have experienced skepticism that this is a political effort related to the timing of an election cycle. I have no evidence that this is the case. But I just think it allows for a bit of political skepticism, but we were able to overcome it as we pursued science and politics (and not politics) from an early return to the Moon. Within our committee, Artemis has enjoyed bipartisan support.
How can this be reconciled with the House’s spending bill that cuts funding for the Moon’s mission?
We will try to provide all the funding needed to keep Artemis on the runway of a planned lunar landing, but it is and will continue to be a challenge. … How do you prioritize the limited amount of money we have to spend on a wide range of things, from the Department of Commerce to the NOAA census to the national weather service? It is all things in our jurisdiction that matter, but we will try to find the right balance.
We will certainly work to negotiate in conference with the House … to maintain Artemis ’goal of moving forward in search of a bipartisan and bicameral solution for these spending levels. … Everyone might have a slightly different point of view on what to prioritize. Our job is to find something that is acceptable to 60 senators and 218 members of the House and that a president can sign.
Any other areas that you plan to differ from your home bill?
I have not yet held talks with my counterparts in the House to make myself known … the thought process behind spending prioritization. I think it remains to be seen how they work. We will try to adapt to this resolution while we work on our billing. We don’t go out of our way to do something different just in terms of doing it differently … or spending to get their attention. We will try to get to a point where there is a little understanding and direction that lends itself to an easier resolution than a struggle when we go to conferences.
Do you have a personal interest in the space that led you to look for this subcommittee chair position?
I certainly have an age when the landing of Apollo caught my eye as a child. I have a goal for my own state, but it is also true for the country, that we honor and love the things that encourage young people to pursue a career in science, math, engineering, and research. I want Kansas and the country to reward those who have this ability to inspire people. It is important for the future of our nation.
It is important for our national defense and for the economy of our country. The future of the United States of America is partly determined by the amount of effort and resources we invest in science, research, technology, and engineering. So my personal interest in this is that it is really important for our country and its future that the inspiration that comes from space be developed by another generation of scientists and engineers.