On Wednesday the full House, debating the full-year continuing resolution HR 1, voted 228-203 to approve an amendment that would transfer $298 million from NASA to the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services, a program that provides funding for local police forces. The amendment, introduced by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was actually debated Tuesday evening by the House and failed by a voice vote, but prevailed in the recorded vote hold over to the next day, with 70 Republicans joining 158 Democrats to approve the amendment.
In the current environment, the agency is a wounded antelope on the savannah, and the jackals and hyenas are going to be swarming on it in the coming days and weeks, with people like Anthony Weiner foremost among them.
This is awful on two levels — first, that there is no sensible discussion about what our space policy should be, and second, that there was no discussion of whether or not community policing is even a legitimate federal responsibility. I’d like to see the names of the Republicans who voted for this atrocity, and see how many have claimed fealty to the Tea Party, because if so, they’re flaming hypocrites, and should be mocked and shamed.
[Cross posted at Competitive Space]
[Update a few minutes later]
John Healey at the LA Times agrees:
…it’s hard to extrapolate from the actions Wednesday to a coherent vision of smaller government. The vote that really confounds me is the one in favor of a proposal by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) to restore $298 million for COPS, a neighborhood policing program. The money is to come out of NASA’s budget, shrinking that agency’s funds by an additional 1.6%.
I wouldn’t argue that hiring cops is more or less important than conducting space missions. But hiring cops is clearly a local responsibility, and NASA is clearly a federal responsibility. If you’re going to shrink the federal government, the starting point should be eliminating its involvement in what are purely local affairs. You can’t get more local than neighborhood policing.
But that’s not the logic typically employed by members of Congress. In their calculus, anything that promotes law enforcement is A Good Thing. And until NASA has a mission as sexy as winning the race to the moon, it will never be able to compete with programs like COPS.
Here’s an idea for an even sexier mission: opening up the solar system and its resources to humanity. Which it could afford to do if we would end the insistence on making it a jobs program for engineers of unneeded new rockets.