Earlier this week leaders of a diverse range of organizations representing research universities, public service providers, aerospace and defense companies, and the broader manufacturing sector gave concrete examples of how federal budget cuts are harming the national interest.
Between the now lamented government shutdown and the potential sequestration cuts slated for January, we are avoiding serious discussion about meeting the future needs of our nation while still addressing our deficit and debt problems.
When members of Congress return from their August recess, their plates will be very full. Our legislators need to fund the government for the next fiscal year, which starts October first. Although it may seem like a simple task to keep the government operating, a potential partisan collision over raising the debt ceiling once again presents the threat of a government shutdown. Even if the two parties and two chambers can agree and prevent this from happening, Congress’s recent habit of punting on appropriations bills and funding the government through a Continuing Resolution limits implementation of important national security programs and continues to delay new starts.
In my role as president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, I’m sometimes asked this question: “Now that the space shuttle is retired, whatever happened to our human spaceflight program?” My response: “It’s alive and well in the form of the International Space Station.”
The Virginia General Assembly may have unwittingly done us a favor by attempting to pass a two-year moratorium on Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones, as they are more commonly known. Perhaps it will prompt a more reasoned debate about how we can make this breakthrough technology — a multi-billion-dollar market — serve the needs of society without compromising safety and privacy.