March 8, 2017 (Windy Hill Beach, South Carolina) — During floor debate preceding the House’s passage of the FY2017 NASA Authorization ($19.5 billion) yesterday, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30) made the following comments about a mission to Mars:
… I rise in support of S. 442, the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017. NASA is a catalyst for scientific discovery, innovation, inspiration, and economic growth. This bill helps to ensure that NASA continues to make significant advances in science, aeronautics, human exploration, and space technology. During the last Congress, the House passed the NASA Authorization Act of 2015, H.R. 810. H.R. 810 was a bipartisan effort and, in particular, it set the long-term goal of sending humans to the surface of Mars and directed NASA to prepare a human exploration roadmap for what is needed to get there. I am pleased… that the Senate-passed bill that is before us today reflects significant content from H.R. 810. Sending humans to deep space destinations and eventually to Mars is a challenge and goal that I know will bring out the best of our U.S. industry and universities, and it will inspire our young people to seek the education and develop the skills needed to help the United States send first astronauts to the martian surface.
Of course, keeping our focus on that goal over multiple Congresses and administrations will really not be easy. That is why this bill, S. 442, comes at a critical time. Witnesses at a recent hearing of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology emphasized the need for stability for NASA if it is to carry out the challenging tasks that our Nation has given it. While S. 442 is a 1-year reauthorization, it enables NASA to continue making effective progress on its programs, including on the key systems that will enable us to send NASA astronauts beyond low Earth orbit and on to Mars.
Source: Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30), “NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION TRANSITION AUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2017”, Congressional Record, March 7, 2017, p. H1569 — https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2017-03-07/html/CREC-2017-03-07-pt1-PgH1553.htm