President Barack Obama’s anti-space exploration policies have created a vacuum that’s being filled by China, bemoaned lawmakers on both sides of the aisle during a congressional hearing Tuesday.
China is catching up to the space programs of NASA and the U.S. military, according to expert witnesses at the hearing, causing Republicans and Democrats to blame Obama for delays and funding cuts.
“All of [NASA’s] success came to a screeching halt when President Obama was sworn in,” Texas Republican Rep. Brian Babin, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Space, said during the hearing. “His fiscal year 2010 budget request slashed well over a billion dollars from the exploration project and budget…China has capitalized on this administration’s weakness.”
Some Democrats agreed with them.
“I think there’s a lot of blame that can be passed along Pennsylvania avenue from one end to the next,” Maryland Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards, the subcommittee’s ranking member, said during the hearing. “For the uncertainty, for the confusing priorities, across Republican and Democratic presidents and members of Congress. In my very short 8 years on this subcommittee and committee, I’ve witness that conflict in priorities.”
In recent months, China launched its second space station, built the world’s largest radio telescope, and deployed the world’s first hack-proof satellite in August. All of this has lawmakers concerned NASA is falling behind.