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Budget hawk Ted Cruz named chair of Senate committee that oversees NASA

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Senator Ted Cruz will chair the committee that oversees science and Nasa in the new Republican-controlled Congress, raising fears that the conservative Texan will cut funding to the space agency and science programs.

Cruz’s appointment to the space, science and competitiveness subcommittee comes amid a broad shift of power in the Senate, where the GOP won a majority in the 2014 elections. Cruz was the top Republican on the subcommittee before the elections.

He has publicly stated support for Nasa but has also attempted at least once to cut the agency’s funding, arguing that larger government cuts necessitated changes to the space program’s budget. In 2013, Cruz both tried to reduce Nasa’s budget and said : “It’s critical that the United States ensure its continued leadership in space.”

Cruz has constituents invested in the space agency’s future – for instance, Nasa employees and contractors at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Cruz has also spoken out against decades of science that indicate climate change, telling CNN last year that in “the last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming” to support “a so-called scientific theory”. His vociferous opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and his support of extreme budget cuts could spell trouble for Nasa’s less prominent programs, such as its own climate research and sophisticated supercomputers .

His role on the front lines of the 2013 government shutdown, which critics say had lasting negative effects on public safety, Nasa research and EPA scientists’ ability to visit contaminated sites, also suggests at best a narrow focus on Nasa’s largest projects and at worst a disregard for agencies that require science funding.

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Senator Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida, was named chair to the subcommittee on oceans, atmosphere, fisheries and coast guard , which oversees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Nooa) and the protection of oceans and marine life in US jurisdiction. Rubio has saidhe does not “believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate”, which is a more lenient position than the new chair of the environment committee, Jim Inhofe, who denies climate science outright .

In December, Congress gave Nasa a boost to its 2015 budget , setting aside hundreds of millions of dollars for its planetary science program and new Space Launch System rocket, which aims to revolutionize advanced rocketry.

Due to budget cuts and programs that the government has allowed to lapse, Nasa has increasingly relied on private space companies in recent years, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX. On Saturday SpaceX tested its own experimental rocket system, delivering supplies to the International Space Station before failing to land its reusable rocket on a floating platform.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2015

 

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Man barricaded himself in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office in Queens

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The New York Police Department responded to a Saturday break-in at the Queens office of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by a 27-year-old man.

"The alleged trespasser barricaded himself in the 3rd floor office, hiding in a utility closet until police convinced him to come out," WPIX-TV reports.

"The man was taken to an area hospital for an evaluation. Charges against him are pending," ABC 7 reported.

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Trump wants Americans to watch interview where he broke federal law by soliciting foreign election help: ‘Enjoy the show!’

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Despite widespread criticism, President Donald Trump on Saturday stood by his comments to George Stephanopoulos -- and hyped an upcoming broadcast of the interview.

"I enjoyed my interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News," Trump claimed.

"So funny to watch the Fake News Media try to dissect and distort every word in as negative a way as possible. It will be aired on Sunday night at 8:00 P.M., and is called, “President Trump: 30 Hours” (which is somewhat misleading in that I personally spent only a small fraction of that time doing interviews. I do have a few other things to do, you know!)," he continued.

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2020 Election

Utah Republican is in deep trouble after trying to defend Trump’s breaking of the law

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President Donald Trump's poor standing in Utah could cause big electoral problems for one of his loudest defenders in the state.

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) said Trump would be "foolish" if he did not illegally accept election help from foreign adversaries.

On Saturday, Stewart was blasted by former CIA officer Evan McMullin.

McMullin was born in Provo, attended Brigham Young University, is Mormon and a also prominent conservative critic of Trump.

In 2016, McMullin ran against Trump as an Independent and received 21.3 percent of the vote in Utah during the general election. Trump also had problems in Utah during the Republican primary, receiving only 14 percent of the vote.

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