House endorses Bush space plan
WASHINGTON -- The House on Friday overwhelmingly endorsed President Bush's plans to go to the moon and Mars but put its own imprint on the future of NASA, insisting the space agency also concentrate on research programs and repairing the Hubble telescope.
The Hubble, along with science programs and aeronautics research, are popular in Congress partly because the contracts generate thousands of jobs, injecting millions into the economies of many lawmakers' districts.
Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., said in Florida alone 33,000 people work in NASA-related jobs, earning a total of $1.6 billion.
"The space program not only helps satisfy our curiosity, it yields new products and services in a changing world," Stearns said. "Pacemakers, scratch-resistant lenses ... insulin pumps for diabetics are only a few of the byproducts of our space program."
The first blueprint for NASA's future in five years passed 383-15.
Congress has pushed hard for a mission to repair the Hubble space telescope, which has been popular with lawmakers and the public for the pictures it has beamed back to Earth. The White House had resisted the repair mission, which would cost another $270 million.
Earlier this week, the White House said it was concerned that the House had added $500 million to next year's NASA budget and proposed $760 million extra for the following year. The total House bill approved Friday sets aside $33.43 billion for NASA over two years. The Senate still has to vote on the measure.