Mary Orndoff correctly reports that President Obama is asking Congress to restore funding for the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) which would provide forecasters with precise information on storms like the ones that devastated Alabama on April 27th.
"Under current funding scenarios, the JPSS-1 mission could be delayed by up to two years, thus forcing the weather forecasting community to rely solely on satellites that will be operating well past their planned mission life," John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, told Congress last week.
Work on the satellite slowed when Congress this spring made deep cuts in the fiscal year 2011 budget, he said. So President Barack Obama's administration is asking for a $1.1 billion increase for 2012 to get things back on track. The money is targeted for NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
What is missing from this report is the fact that every Republican Congressperson from Alabama voted to eliminate funding for those satellites. They were one of those "luxuries" that America just can't afford anymore in the Republican view. The GOP budget plan is the reason these satellites are now behind schedule.
On Thursday, as the search for survivors continued in devastated communities across Alabama and other southern states pummeled this week by massive, terrifying tornadoes, President Obama said “we can’t control when or where a terrible storm may strike, but we can control how we respond to it.” Unfortunately, thanks to the spending bill orchestrated by the GOP-controlled House of Representatives, he couldn’t say we are doing everything in our power to protect Americans from future extreme weather events. Events that are becoming ever more frequent, as CAP’s Daniel J. Weiss and Valeri Vasquez pointed out in a report and interactive map released Friday.
It is precisely those “pinpoint satellite forecasts” that Congress, including every GOP member of Alabama’s delegation, decided were luxuries America cannot afford when it passed the continuing resolution to keep the government operating for the remainder of the fiscal year.
It's amusing to watch GOPpers like Spencer Bachus (R, AL-06) scrambling to cover their asses by now supporting increased funding for advanced weather satellites. They just got a lesson in what is and is not a "luxury."
Other things that were on the Republican chopping block but are definitely not luxuries:
- FEMA is not a luxury, although all Alabama Republican Members of Congress voted to cut funding for FEMA earlier this year.
- Air Traffic Control is not a luxury.
- Food safety and inspection is not a luxury.
- Nutrition for poor women and children is not a luxury.
- State and local law enforcement assistance is not a luxury.
- Renewable energy research is not a luxury.
On the other hand, Republicans have repeatedly voted for some things which without a doubt deserve the "luxury" label:Republicans vote to defund needed programs, then turn around and spend billions on tax breaks for the rich and powerful ... Republican priorities are wrong and most people would agree they're wrong if only they had the information.