On Wednesday, April 26, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) announced that $88 million more than President Barack Obama requested would be added to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars program by the House Appropriations Committee. Representatives Schiff and John Culberson (R-TX) worked together with the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee to restore funds to explore Mars and the outer planets. This is a breakthrough for both Congressmen, following months of uncertainty regarding cuts to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
After the Appropriations Committee markup, Schiff released a statement, thanking a number of supporters for helping push the request through.
“NASA's proposed budget for Mars and planetary science is appalling, and threatens American leadership in planetary science. I want to thank Chairman [Frank Wolf] and Ranking Member [Chaka Fattah] for working with us to increase funding for planetary science, and for restoring $88 million above what NASA requested for the Mars program,” commented Shiff in a prepared statement. “This is an important step, but much work remains to be done to strengthen the Mars program and ensure the future exploration of our solar system, including a mission to Europa, is properly funded.”
Even with the victory, Schiff believes there is still more to be done to fully restore the program.
“I was heartened to see that my colleagues in the Senate also restored funding to the Mars program, in the amount of $100 million. It is my hope that we can exceed both of these funding levels in the conference committee between the House and Senate that will take place later this year. I will continue to press Congress to fully fund the Mars program, one of the most successful scientific endeavors in the nation's history,” remarked Shiff in the statement.
The is the U.S. center for robotic exploration of the solar system with over 50 years of exploration under its belt. Past programs include the Mars Pathfinder and the Mars Global Surveyor.