Saturday, January 14, 2006

Why House Republican Politics Imperils Human Space Exploration.

As we mentioned the other day the demise of Tom DeLay as House majority leader removes a powerful space advocate from political leadership. The race for his replacement, until now between John Boehner and Roy Blunt, has become more complicated with the candidacy of Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona.

Why does this matter to space exploration?

Of the three candidates only Shadegg is a member of the Republican Study Committee. (Here.) The RSC is a conservative group of an estimated 103 Congressmembers concerned about high federal government spending. After Hurricane Katrina, the RSC recommended saving money on a wide range of federal programs to pay for hurricane recovery.

Operation Offset, as it was called, resulted in a report that recommended cutting money from the space program by eliminating President Bush's Vision for Space Exploration initiative. Page 8 of the report reads:
"Cancel NASA’s New Moon/Mars Initiative

In 2004, the President announced a new initiative to explore the Moon and Mars with the goal of returning humans to the Moon by 2020. NASA currently intends to use the savings from phasing out the space shuttle in 2012 to fund this program. Savings: $44 billion over ten years ($11.5 billion over five years)"
(See full report here.)

It cannot be understated how rebellious conservatives are feeling over federal spending under Republican government. RSC membership gives Shadegg credibility among conservative Republicans, both rank and file and opinion makers. (See Lawrence Kudlow on NRO here for the latter.) His membership also gives him a large base of support in the Republican Caucus. If the full RSC membership gives their support to Shadegg for leader he will be all but assured of reaching the 116 votes he needs to win. If that happens, the House will be led by a Representative who owes his victory to a group that is on record as being opposed to human exploration of space.

That's gonna hurt.


Update: Turns out that the editors of National Review Online have endorsed Shadegg. (Here.)


> the House will be led by a Representative who owes his victory to a group
> that is on record as being opposed to human exploration of space.

When did the Republican Study Committee state that it was opposed to human exploration of space?

Why would Shadegg vote for the Commercial Space Launch Ammendments Act if he was opposed to the human exploration of space?

"Human spaceflight" is not limited to NASA or to NASA's vision for space exploration. There are many other Americans who have visions that go far beyond "Apollo on Steroids."
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