McCain Excludes NASA From Budget Freeze

WASHINGTON —  John McCain said this week that he would exclude NASA from his  across-the-board freeze on government spending that he has proposed — the  first time that the Republican presidential nominee has singled out the  space agency to be spared.   The statement  could put to rest longstanding — and conflicting — stances by the Arizona  senator, who has called for both the freeze and increased support for NASA,  which gets roughly $17 billion annually in the federal budget. He has  promised to boost NASA funding by $2 billion.  “I will freeze  government spending on all but the most important programs like defense,  veterans care, NASA, Social Security and health care until we scrub every  single government program and get rid of the ones that aren’t working for  the American people,” McCain said Wednesday in Miami.    Space policy  could be a tipping factor in Florida, where thousands of workers at Kennedy  Space Center are likely to lose their jobs once the space shuttle is  retired, now planned for 2010.  The $2 billion  increase in funding proposed by McCain — and echoed by Democratic nominee  Barack Obama — is targeted at closing the flight gap between the  shuttle’s retirement and the first mission of its successor, now under  development and slated for a first mission in 2015. 


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