Over the past few weeks, I have written about my role on the Appropriations Committee, covering two of the three subcommittees I serve on in Washington. First, I discussed defense and how important it is that we build up our armed forces for the future. Later, I talked about agriculture and rural development, which hits home to many of us here in Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. Today, I want to talk about the subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science and the role it plays within the Appropriations Committee.
The Commerce, Justice, and Science subcommittee, which is commonly referred to as the CJS subcommittee, digs into the funding for the Department of Commerce, Justice (DOJ), NASA, National Science Foundation, and many related agencies. It covers quite a large swath of federal funding, everything from programs within the Department of Justice to the Space Launch System for NASA.
I have the privilege of serving as ranking member on this subcommittee, and I am honored to be in that role. As ranking member, I have several priorities that I fight for constantly. First and foremost is my unwavering commitment to protecting the most vulnerable among us. That stance means standing up for innocent babies and ensuring we rid the world of human trafficking.
As a proud advocate for life, I have never backed down in the fight to protect the unborn. I have supported policies and legislation such as the Hyde Amendment from my first day in office, which protects federal tax dollars from funding abortion. I have also introduced legislation of my own that bars the Department of Justice from using federal funds to fund abortions for inmates within the Bureau of Prisons. While these legislative amendments align with my pro-life stance, they actually have nothing to do with the pro-life v. pro-abortion debate. Instead, it all boils down to how the federal government spends your hard-earned taxpayer dollars; and I am a believer in taking the politics out of your money, not forcing you to pay for something that may be against a deeply held religious belief. For me, this is common sense. But sadly, for my colleagues across the aisle, it is a political football that they toss around just to please a vocal minority. Rest assured I will never give an inch in my fight on this issue. As I have said before, and will continue to say, abortion stops an innocent human heartbeat.
To go along with protecting the vulnerable, I am keenly focused on ridding the Earth of the scourge of human trafficking. This criminal act puts young people (mostly women) at high risk of being abducted into trafficking rings that exploit them and can kill them. I will stop at nothing to end human trafficking, and in my role on the CJS subcommittee, I am able to push towards this goal through the appropriations process. We are able to designate funding to programs within the Department of Justice that deal directly with catching these criminals and ensuring that they are prosecuted for their heinous crimes. I am also able to talk directly with DOJ officials about these programs and press them to do everything possible with the funding we give them. I am proud of the work we have done so far, but there is more work ahead to put an end to this vile crime.
Another priority of mine is ensuring NASA continues pushing the United States towards a return to the Moon, then on the Mars and deep space. While we have seen the private sector send astronauts and even tourists into space recently, these are stepping stones to exploration, and NASA has prioritized low earth orbit activities for decades now. Of course, the private sector will continue to play a role in fulfilling those goals, like returning us to the moon. Private companies were partners with the government, in fact, for the great Apollo program. In this new era of changing how contracts are awarded, it is crucial that there be true competition among companies, and not just a lopsided number of contracts to one company.
As you know, a big part of NASA’s operation takes place in Huntsville at Marshall Space Flight Center, neighboring the 4th Congressional District, so our path to space always runs right through Alabama. In addition to propulsion programs, Marshall has played key roles in science missions such as the Hubble Telescope. Programs like the Space Launch System that are developed right in our backyard play an integral role in moving forward human exploration goals. Marshall has a towering test stand that was part of the Shuttle testing program, and over 100 Marshall Space Flight Center personnel were key to ensuring the safe and successful first commercial crew launch by a private sector company.
Meanwhile, there is no question that the U.S. must regain supremacy in the distant reaches of space, and we must do that through adequately funding various NASA programs while holding them, and private sector participants, accountable to timelines and proven results. China understands that a great nation requires a great space program with mission goals, which cannot be evaluated with cost as the only factor. I am confident that we can make this happen, and I am proud to use my role on the CJS subcommittee to ensure that human exploration is led by the United States and our allies.
As I continue to serve on the Appropriations Committee, rest assured that I will never stop fighting for Alabama. The priorities I have listed all come from the values and people that make up our great district and state. And while these priorities take up my day to day in the halls of Congress, my top priority has always been making Alabama’s 4th Congressional District a better place today than it was yesterday.
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04) is a Republican from Haleyville.