Statement by the President Upon Signing Appropriations Bill for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
I HAVE today signed a $4.86 billion authorization for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for fiscal 1968. This bill--S. 1296--reduces the January budget request by $234 million.
In addition, the House Appropriations Committee last week, operating within the reduced authorization, reported a NASA appropriations bill of $4.6 billion, a total reduction of $517 million below the January budget.
Under other circumstances I would have opposed such a cut. However, conditions have greatly changed since I submitted my January budget request.
I outlined the economic and fiscal realities now facing the Nation in my recent tax message:
--They deal with increased expenditures and reduced revenues.
--They deal with a threatened deficit that could run as high as $29 billion.
--And they deal with a 10 percent tax surcharge that the American taxpayer has been asked to bear.
The times demand responsibility from us all.
Every Federal dollar must be scrutinized by the Congress before it is appropriated and by the executive branch before it is spent. And in the process some hard choices must be made. The test is to distinguish between the necessary and the desirable.
To reach our expenditure reduction target will not be easy, for the January budget was lean. By working together with the Congress we will pursue that goal. To attain it, we need not--and dare not--eliminate the necessary. Our task is to pare the desirable.
The administration and the Congress must face up to these choices in the space program. I recognize--as also must the Congress--that the reduction in funds recommended by the House Appropriations Committee will require the deferral and reduction of some desirable space projects. Yet, in the face of present circumstances, I join with the Congress and accept this reduction.
Let us be clear about one point. These reductions do not signal a lack of confidence in our space venture. Nor do they indicate that we have lessened our resolve to maintain a strong program of space exploration, science, and technology. This was clearly the meaning of the House Appropriations Committee when in its report, it stated:
"The Committee is impressed by the knowledge and dedication of the officials administering this program. The United States has made great strides in space exploration. We have come from behind in less than ten years and have overcome deficiencies in both military and non-military space programs. We have launched 16 manned flights, and all have been successful. NASA has launched more than 200 unmanned flights and achieved dramatic breakthroughs otherwise since Congress declared that we should undertake a broad and expansive space program. The fact that there has been one tragedy to date 1 should not deter the United States from moving forward and making further advancements. Even with budgetary stringencies facing us, this Nation must move forward in space exploration."
I fully share in this determination.
1 See Item 19.
Because the times have placed more urgent demands upon our resources, we must now moderate our efforts in certain space projects. But our purpose still remains as constant as the heavens we seek to explore: to master the challenge of space.
Note: As enacted, the bill (S. 1296) is Public Law 90-67 (81 Stat. 168).
Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing Appropriations Bill for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/237881