Ted Cruz to oversee NASA: What does his record tell us?

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has a reputation for taking a hard line on budget and climate change, has been appointed chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees NASA. 

Yuri Gripas/Reuters
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) addresses the Heritage Action's second annual Conservative Policy Summit in Washington Jan. 12. The senator was appointed Jan. 8 as chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness.

The changing of the Senate guard continues.

On Jan. 8, the Republican Press Office released the names of the chairmen who will be serving under the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee for the 114th Congress. And now chairing the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness is none other than Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas.

A hardline conservative and a potential candidate for the 2016 presidential elections, Senator Cruz has always been outspoken, especially when it comes to issues such as immigration and gun control.

But it’s his statements on budget cuts, technology, and climate change that have some worrying that his appointment might mean less funding for science, engineering and technology research and to agencies such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Foundation – all of which fall under his charge as subcommittee chairman.

The senator has voiced support for NASA and the space program (the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center is based in his state) expressing interest in the private sector’s potential role in research and development (Lockheed Martin in Texas is building the Orion spacecraft) and occasionally taking to social media to celebrate the agency’s achievements. He also said last year, “It’s critical that the United States ensure its continued leadership in space.”

At the same time, Cruz has tried to reduce funding to the space program, saying that cuts in government spending required changes to NASA’s budget.

Cruz’s stance on climate change has been more definite: “The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming. Contrary to all the theories that – that they are expounding, there should have been warming over the last 15 years. It hasn't happened,” he told CNN last February.

“[Y]ou always have to be worried about something that is considered a so-called scientific theory that fits every scenario. Climate change, as they have defined it, can never be disproved, because whether it gets hotter or whether it gets colder, whatever happens, they'll say, well, it's changing, so it proves our theory," Cruz continued.

NASA has just launched five new projects that will look into how the earth’s atmosphere affects climate change. The agency also has a section on its website dedicated to studying and promoting understanding of climate change.

Cruz has also spoken out against net neutrality, the idea that all consumers have equal access to the Internet and “can make their own choices about what applications and services to use and are free to decide what lawful content they want to access, create, or share with others,” according to the Federal Communications Commission.

The senator's appointment is expected to be confirmed by the end of the month.

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