November 13, 2019

Duckworth Secures Key Priorities in NASA Reauthorization Bill


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation (CST), applauded the inclusion of several of her provisions that would help Illinois and the nation in the NASA Reauthorization Act of 2019. These provisions, which passed the CST Committee today and may now be considered by the full Senate, seek to address the legacy of trichloroethylene pollution, enhance scientific integrity at NASA, expand NASA’s external partnerships and increase STEM engagement funding.

I’m proud to have secured provisions in this legislation that would help reduce exposure to toxic pollution and boost NASA’s scientific integrity, external partnerships and STEM investments,” Duckworth said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to advance this important bipartisan legislation and send it to the President’s desk.”

Key Duckworth provisions included in today’s Committee-passed legislation would:

  • Address legacy of Trichloroethylene (TCE) pollution: This Duckworth provision would require the EPA to take action to reduce exposure to TCE, a chemical that NASA used in its operations and missions for decades and that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently determined to be highly carcinogenic by all routes of exposure. According to a NASA assessment conducted in 2013, 13 Centers and Component Facilities have TCE contamination, which presents an unacceptable risk to NASA employees and communities that are adjacent to NASA’s operations. Specifically, this provision, which was adopted by amendment, would require EPA to identify all sites of concern, develop a plan to remediate all sites within 5 years and report to congress on what resources they will need to implement their plan.
  • Enhance scientific integrity at NASA: This Duckworth provision, which was adopted by amendment, would require the NASA Administrator to develop and document procedures for identifying and addressing alleged violations of NASA’s scientific integrity policy. This provision would ensure NASA delivers on a recommendation made by GAO earlier this year that detailed additional actions that the Administration should take to ensure scientific integrity.

Duckworth also supported several provisions that would:

  • Expand Center-University-Industry partnerships: This provision would encourage NASA to increase its ties between its Centers and external stakeholder community through the use of alternative contract and partnership mechanisms, such as the University of Illinois. While NASA centers form the critical backbone of the agency’s ability to execute its mission through engagement with industry, academia and research institutions, there are increasing areas of engagement in which outside organizations have significant expertise to bring to the agency.
  • Increase STEM engagement funding: This provision would increase funding for the Office of STEM Engagement, which is currently operating at its lowest funding level in six years, in order to better invest in the next generation of leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.