Sen. Cruz on Senate Floor: On the Question of America Leading the World in Space, the United States Senate Speaks With One Voice
Celebrates unanimous passage of the NASA Authorization Act
December 18, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, today issued the following statement after the Senate unanimously passed the bipartisan NASA Authorization Act, legislation he authored with Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.):
"As chairman of the Aviation and Space Subcommittee, I'm proud to once again lead this bipartisan legislation that continues to ensure America remains on the cutting edge of innovation and the manned exploration of space. I am grateful America's leadership in space remains an issue of such broad bipartisan agreement. A few months ago we witnessed the launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon, the first launch of American astronauts from U.S. soil in nearly a decade, on the first commercially-created spacecraft in American history. That successful mission was a bright moment in an otherwise difficult and tumultuous year, and has united and inspired Americans to further human potential.
"These next 50 years in space have the potential to be even more consequential than the last 50 years, and the legislation we've passed today gives NASA the resources and direction it needs to face this new era, and the challenges that will come with it, with boldness. Not only will this legislation enhance our presence in low-Earth orbit, but will help Americans safely return to the moon, and put America's dreams of taking the first step on the surface of Mars directly on our horizon. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to strengthen America's leadership in the final frontier."
Moments before the Senate approved the bill, Sen. Cruz delivered remarks on the Senate Floor praising the bipartisan collaboration that went into the legislation, and thanking his colleagues for passing the NASA Authorization Act unanimously. Watch his remarks here. Read his remarks below.
"Mr. President, in a few moments, I'm going to ask unanimous consent for the Senate to pass S. 2800, which is the bipartisan NASA Authorization Act. Before doing so, I want to make some brief remarks about how important this legislation is to American leadership in space and to our continued space exploration efforts.
"Well over a year ago, I joined with Chairman Wicker, Ranking Member Cantwell, and Aviation and Space Subcommittee Ranking Member Sinema, and we began writing the NASA Authorization Act. Using as a foundation the bipartisan bill that I had previously authored with Senators Cornyn, Rubio, Markey, and then-Senator Bill Nelson from the last Congress as our starting point, we solicited input from hundreds of stakeholders, from individuals and academics, to industry partners, and even our international allies.
"Hundreds of pages of suggestions, proposed edits, and comments were submitted. And over many months, our staffs worked diligently through each and every submission, trying to incorporate the feedback to the greatest extent possible. What resulted is this bill which was marked up last year and unanimously reported. What we have achieved together is legislation that enjoys deep and broad bipartisan support and that sets bold goals for NASA and the United States in space. It provides the direction and the infrastructure necessary to meet them.
"I'm very proud of the work that we've done together and of this legislation that we've assembled. And I want to express particular thanks to Senators Wicker, Cantwell, and Sinema, and to their staffs for their hard work.
"Our bill strengthens the United States' leadership in space, ensuring that we remain the default space exploration partner of the world. It extends the life of the International Space Station through to 2030, and it challenges us to be the international leader for Lunar and Mars exploration, and to reach new horizons.
"It's not just human exploration, though, Mr. President. By working in a collegial and good-faith manner, we were able to craft a product that strengthens all of NASA's core missions, something which benefits not just states with strong NASA equities, but every American.
"It is amazing what strong, unified leadership can do to bring the members of this body together - working to pass vitally important legislation that advances science, technology, national security, and the interests of our nation.
"So, Mr. President, I want to say again how grateful I am to my colleagues who worked on this bill with me and to state just how proud I am that the Senate is speaking with one unified voice in passing this legislation. This is following a tradition that we have seen [in] the past eight years I have served in this body, where on the question of space, we have seen over and over and over again strong bipartisan cooperation. Even at a time when partisan division pulls us apart in so many other areas, on the question of America leading the world in space, the United States Senate speaks with one voice. We have a real opportunity here to boldly shape the nation's space exploration efforts, to inspire new generations of little boys and little girls gazing up at the stars and wondering what's out there, and to make the United States a true space-faring nation.
"While this bill is not going to pass the House of Representatives during the remainder of this Congress, I look forward to the beginning of the next Congress where we can use this unanimously approved legislation as the starting point to move quickly to pass a comprehensive NASA Authorization Act across the finish line and get it signed into law. Therefore, Mr. President, as if in legislative session, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 525, S. 2800."
The NASA Authorization Act would:
- Support NASA's human spaceflight and exploration efforts to return American astronauts to the Moon and prepare for future journeys to Mars.
- Extend authorization for the International Space Station (ISS) through 2030 and direct NASA to take steps to grow the "space economy."
- Require the United States to maintain a continuous human presence in low-Earth orbit through and beyond the useful life of the ISS.
- Support NASA's leadership in coordinating the development of next generation spacesuits.
- Leverage private sector investment to bolster human space exploration.
- Authorize NASA's Enhanced Use Leasing (EUL) authority. EUL allows companies to lease vacant or underutilized buildings owned by NASA with lease proceeds helping to fund capital improvements at the NASA centers.
- Provide rapid acquisition authorities similar to those that have proven successful at the Department of Defense and other agencies.
- Direct NASA to maintain and upgrade irreplaceable rocket launch and test infrastructure.
- Support vital life and physical science research to ensure that humans can live in deep space safely.
- Direct NASA to improve upon its planetary defense measures in order to protect Earth from asteroids and other near-Earth objects.
- Affirm NASA's commitment to aeronautics research by supporting a robust X-plane program as well as work on efficient propulsion concepts and advanced composites.
- Support NASA's STEM education and workforce efforts.
Read the full text of the bill here.