Schiff criticizes proposed funding cuts to Mars projects

Rep. Adam Schiff today vowed to fight a quarter-billion dollars in proposed funding cuts to NASA's Mars exploration programs out of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge "tooth and nail."

The statement came after President Obama unveiled his budget plan for the federal government fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, which includes a roughly $226-million funding cut for the unmanned Mars exploration and research programs that are mostly operated out of JPL.

A more clear picture of how the budget proposal would impact JPL was expected to take some time, especially since Obama's plan must past muster with Congress during an election year.

Under Obama's budget plan, NASA would get $17.7 billion for fiscal year 2013. That's only reportedly about $59 million less than what Congress approved for this fiscal year, but the spending priorities would be shifted to other projects, such as a so-called heavy-lift "space launch system" that could eventually transport astronauts to Mars.

Schiff, who expressed displeasure with the possible cuts in a meeting with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden last week, criticized Obama's proposal in a statement today, describing it as shortsighted.

"We must not sacrifice American leadership in space exploration, and I intend to fight this misguided proposal tooth and nail," said Schiff, whose district includes JPL.


The complete 2013 NASA budget proposal

-- Jason Wells, Times Community News

Twitter: @JasonBretWells

Photo: The Mars rover Curiosity in the "clean room" at JPL on Monday, April 4, 2011. The rover is expected to land on the Gale Crater in Mars in August. Credit: Tim Berger/Staff Photographer

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