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Fri, Dec 09, 2005

AIA President: NASA Needs Resources to Repair Hurricane-Damaged Facilities

Rebuilding and repairs to two hurricane-damaged NASA centers in Mississippi and Louisiana should not be shortchanged when Congress makes budget decisions for next year, AIA President and CEO John Douglass said.

NASA suffered nearly $1 billion in damages to the Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Miss. and the Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans from hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The agency requested $760 million in the Fiscal 2006 budget, but the Office of Management and Budget asked for just $325 million. That sum would be included in a supplemental appropriations bill that is not slated to be discussed for six months.

"It is vital that Congress addresses the need to repair these two facilities because of their importance to our space program," Douglass said.

"We cannot continue the nation's international leadership in space exploration when hampered by facilities that are not operating at 100 percent."

Douglass expressed AIA's support for a budget request made by eight legislators to include the full $760 million in Fiscal 2006. In a letter to Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis, the lawmakers pointed out that NASA Administrator Michael Griffin should not have to use money from his operating budget to make needed repairs.

The letter stated that waiting for a potential supplemental funding bill in May for the improvements, which include levee repairs, upgrading pumps, and hardening facilities against flooding, would mean nothing would be done until next year's hurricane season, the letter says.

Congressmen who signed the letter are Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), Dana Rohrbacker (R-Calif.), Charlie Melancon (D-La.), Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), and Ralph Hall (R-Texas).



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