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Administration ‘will have a fight on their hands’ if they stop funding space station, Florida senator says

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He says the move would decimate Florida’s space industry

Confirmation Hearing Held For Trump's Pick To Become Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), ranking member of the Senate committee that oversees NASA, had some harsh words about the Trump administration’s alleged proposal to stop funding the ISS by 2025, vowing to fight such an endeavor.

“If the administration plans to abruptly pull us out of the International Space Station in 2025, they’re going to have a fight on their hands,” Nelson said in a statement. “Such a move would likely decimate Florida’s blossoming commercial space industry, which is one of the reasons why Congress has directed NASA to look at extending the ISS to 2028 and to provide a plan to help scientists and researchers continue experimenting in low-Earth orbit beyond that.”

The plan to pull NASA funding from the ISS will supposedly come in the upcoming president budget request, according to a draft proposal The Verge received yesterday. The wording in the draft suggested eventually transitioning activities in lower Earth orbit, where the station resides, to commercial space companies. However, the plan is only a draft and could change by the time the budget request comes out on February 12th.

Nelson, however, is in a strong position to fight back. As the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, he oversees legislation regarding NASA, as well as Senate confirmations to the agency. The senator has also been embroiled in another fight against the administration in regards to space policy: picking a new NASA administrator. The administration nominated Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) for the job, and Nelson has been the candidate’s biggest opponent, criticizing him for his politics and lack of scientific background. But despite Bridenstine’s opposition, the Senate Commerce Committee narrowly voted to move his nomination forward to a full Senate vote. However, Nelson told reporters that the administration does not have enough votes to pass Bridenstine forward, according to Politico.