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Letter to the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee on the Space Station Program

June 22, 1988

Dear Mr. Chairman: (Dear Senator Hatfield:)

In anticipation of the Senate Appropriations Committee meetings this week, I am writing to urge your support for the Space Station program while preserving the integrity of the budget agreement we reached with the bipartisan congressional leadership last November.

The Senate is now at a critical decision point. The FY 1989 appropriation bill as marked by the HUD-Independent Agencies Subcommittee would provide only $200 million for the Space Station and effectively force termination of the Space Station program. This would be totally unacceptable.

Equally unacceptable, however, would be any plan that takes critical funds away from another national priority, our country's defense budget. I understand that the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee has proposed to do just that by transferring more than $600 million from Defense research and development into an account to pay for the Space Station. Not only is this counterproductive to our goals for both Defense and the Space Station, but funding the Space Station at the expense of national security violates the budget agreement.

In my FY 1989 budget, within the terms of our agreements on overall spending levels, I put the Space Station among the top priorities and included the necessary funding of about $1 billion in FY 1989. In addition, because of the importance of a stable, long-term commitment to this program, I proposed that appropriations be made for FY 1990 and 1991 as well.

We all know that the space program has been the source of innovation and technological growth here on Earth. The Space Station is an important vehicle of international cooperation -- the largest cooperative science and technology project ever undertaken. We need the Space Station for all these reasons and for an even more important, but less tangible, reason: our Nation's leadership role in the peaceful exploration and use of space.

The Soviet Union already has an active space station program and is using it increasingly to support civilian space goals and to advance foreign policy objectives. Meanwhile, our closest friends and allies in Europe, Japan, and Canada have agreed to join with us in a cooperative relationship that will substantially increase the capabilities of the U.S. station; indeed, we are about to sign intergovernmental agreements with these partners, who collectively will contribute over $7 billion to the Space Station. The Congress's failure now to fund adequately this vital project will significantly undermine our national space effort and raise serious questions about our reliability as a leader and partner in an area where our leadership has been so vital for three decades.

I am fully aware of the difficult decisions that must be made in setting priorities among the competing demands for funding this year, but this is not the time to turn our backs on the future or on needed defense spending. By making these difficult but necessary decisions, we can achieve the priorities our Nation needs. If we are to insure our future, funding of science, space, and technology programs must remain a top priority.

I am asking you to help assure that future by supporting appropriation of the funds necessary for the space program our Nation needs without sacrificing national security and other vital programs our Nation requires.


Ronald Reagan

Note: Identical letters were sent to John C. Stennis of Mississippi and Mark O. Hatfield of Oregon, chairman and ranking minority member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, respectively.