WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, recently chaired a series of hearings examining the future role of the International Space Station (ISS). In the first hearing in May, and in the second hearing last week, Sen. Cruz and his colleagues have reiterated bipartisan support in Congress for the continued operation and utilization of the ISS, and have opposed proposals that would end federal support in 2025.
Several news outlets covered Sen. Cruz’s leadership on this issue. Selected news coverage is below:
“If certain green eye-shade bureaucrats in Washington have their way, funding for the International Space Station (ISS), which already consumes a miniscule part of the federal budget, would be pared back to nothing within a few short years. Such a move would have ramifications far beyond the scientific and national security ‘black hole’ into which our manned space program would plunge if the budget were thus decimated. […] Fighting the budget cutters, however, is no easy task considering all that is consuming dollars and attention in the nation’s Capital. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is leading the drive to stop this short-sighted fiscal blunder. He noted accurately in recent congressional hearings that manned space exploration, exemplified by the ISS program in which the United States is the senior partner, cannot be switched on and off like a light switch. Cutting funding for the ISS as proposed by NASA, even if implemented over a period of six or seven years, would in effect create a gap in America’s manned space exploration program that would result in a downward spiral from which it likely could not recover. Although private sector space technology is moving forward, it is not nearly at the stage at which it alone could pick up the slack that will result from the proposed NASA budget cuts.”
The Weekly Standard: Stay in the International Space Station!
“The International Space Station has been a triumph of scientific achievement and cooperation, with America leading an international coalition of scientists to new heights. Yet NASA’s FY 2019 budget proposal included plans to end funding for by 2025. […] Cruz wants to make sure the U.S. funds the ISS at least through 2028, while recognizing the end of a commitment of this import should be tied to criteria of exploration milestones, not an arbitrary date. ‘Prematurely canceling a program for political reasons costs jobs and wastes billions of dollars,’ Cruz said. ‘We cannot afford to continue to pursue policies that have consequences of creating gaps in capability, that send $3.5 billion in taxpayer money to the Russian government, or that create a leadership vacuum in low-earth orbit that provides a window of opportunity for the Chinese to capitalize on it.’”
“In the second in a series of hearings on the future of the ISS, witnesses from industry and other organizations said either transitioning the ISS to commercial operators, or shifting to new commercial space stations, may not be feasible by that time, and that even consideration of the proposal may scare away potential station users. […] Senators at the hearing made it clear even before the witnesses testified that they remained opposed to ending NASA funding of the ISS by 2025, particularly since it has the technical ability to operate through at least 2028. ‘It is my firm belief that it would be irresponsible for the United States government to prematurely end the life of the International Space Station before maximizing American taxpayer investment,’ said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the subcommittee. Cruz had previously criticized the proposal, as had Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member of the full Senate Commerce Committee.”
“Already in the midst of a trade war with China, some lawmakers worry that the United States may lose to the country in another realm — space innovation. A Space, Science and Competitiveness Subcommittee hearing this week focused on the possible implications of turning the United States’ stake in the International Space Station over to private industry. […] In February, subcommittee Chairman Ted Cruz of Texas blamed the decision to cut funding on ‘numskulls’ at the Office of Management and Budget. Cruz reiterated in Wednesday’s hearing that it was telling that he agrees with Sen. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, the subcommittee’s ranking member, and Nelson — lawmakers from across the political spectrum — that cutting funding to the space station would be a bad idea. ‘The American taxpayers have invested $100 billion into it. It would be foolish to waste that investment,’ Cruz said. A significant portion of NASA’s $3-4 billion yearly budget for the space station is spent in Cruz and Nelson’s home states.”
The Washington Times: Preserving America’s Supremacy in Space
“Acquiescing to efforts to end government funding of the International Space Station (ISS) by 2025 would be a historic and costly mistake to the tune of billions, destroying an engineering, science and geopolitical marvel and elevating America’s enemies to supremacy in space. […] ‘Prematurely canceling a program for political reasons costs jobs and wastes billions of dollars,’ Senate space subcommittee Chairman Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, proclaimed at the May hearing, warning about the dangers of giving space over to international bad actors. ‘We cannot afford to continue to pursue policies that have consequences of creating gaps in capability, that send $3 1/2 billion in taxpayer money to the Russian government, or that create a leadership vacuum in low-earth orbit that provides a window of opportunity for the Chinese to capitalize on it,’ Sen. Cruz concluded. New NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, was quoted in The Washington Post saying, ‘we’re in the position now where there are people out there that can do commercial management of the International Space Station and run it as a commercial space lab.’ The problem with this is, as Mr. Cruz points out, this would create ‘gaps in capability’ and would prematurely cancel a program that is working.”
The New York Times: Space Station Could be Split to Aid Privatization, New NASA Chief Says
“The administration has proposed eliminating direct federal contributions to the space station by 2025 and allocating $150 million to develop ‘commercial successors,’ including companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Blue Origin, which was started by Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder of Amazon. […] NASA’s options for privatization may be limited by the international agreements establishing the I.S.S. A coalition of over a dozen countries helped assemble the structure, the first piece of which launched into orbit in 1998. The United States has spent almost $100 billion on the space station, and even some Republicans in Congress are skeptical of the move to privatize its mission. ‘As a fiscal conservative, you know one of the dumbest things you can do is cancel programs after billions in investment when there is still serious usable life ahead,’ Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, said after the budget proposal was released in February.”