Jobs Saved at NASA

President Obama is expected to sign a bill today that will prevent massive layoffs at NASA. Yesterday, local members of Congress met at the Johnson Space Center to talk about the bill and why it is important. Bill Stamps has more.

The Space Shuttle Program is coming to an end, because the vehicles are getting too old. But where NASA goes from there has been a source of disagreement. The Obama administration had its own goals, but those would have meant lots of job losses for NASA, both in Florida and here in Houston.

Last week Congress and the President reach an agreement including the decision come up with a new launch vehicle immediately, instead of five years down the road.

“The concern that I had with the proposal from the administration was that it would be five years before a decision was made on the kind of launch vehicle. But now we are going to focus on one vehicle so that we can put out tax payer dollars to use in one concerted effort.”

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison led the charge in attempting to limit the number of changes being made to NASA, changes that would certainly mean loss of jobs. Even fellow Democrat Congressman Gene Green and Sheila Jackson Lee applauded the work of Senator Hutchison, but they say it took an effort by both parties.

“Not sure whether she ever played basketball or not, but Senator Hutchison made a dunk. She dunked the ball.”

“Fortunately, the Texas delegation, Congressional delegation, was able to work together on a bipartisan basis and let me repeat that it was bipartisan. It wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been bipartisan.”

The bill gives NASA a budget of 19 billion in 2011 and 58 billion through 2013. It also adds one more shuttle flight.

“The added shuttle flight gives Mike Coates the time to take our skilled workforce and redirect them into the new mission. If he had had to shut things down on October first, we would have lost thousands of jobs.”

While the U.S. finds another space vehicle to travel to the International Space Station, the plan is to pay the Russians to take equipment and American astronauts back and forth.