The hearings began with a statement by House Science Committee Chair James Sensenbrenner. Wasting no time in getting to the point Sensenbrenner opened by reading from a prepared statement;" NASA's budget is a mess. Because the Administration can't or won't submit an honest budget, 890 Space Shuttle employees are losing their jobs." Sensenbrenner took issue with Goldin's contention that such cuts won't affect the Space Shuttle program by saying "Dan, tell that to the people who are losing their jobs."
Sensenbrenner then went on to detail the series of events wherein repeated objections by the Committee went unheeded, suggestions for supplemental appropriations to fix the ISS program were turned down by the White House, and NASA's "lobbying appropriators behind-the-scenes for another $430 million for the Station." noting that NASA only managed to get $200 million as a result of this activity. Sensenbrenner added that "this year NASA expects another $200 million to be taken from funds once declared off limits".
Sensenbrenner then went on to say that "[he doesn't] know how we can put any faith in this budget given the Administration's track record. Every year we get the budget with a footnote that says, "oh, by the way, we need more money for station. Oh, by the way, we're going to cut the shuttle. Oh, by the way, we're going to take money from the science programs. Oh, by the way, we're going to bail out the Russians. Oh, by the way, we're going to lay people off." It has got to stop."
He closed by saying that "The budgets that the President has imposed on NASA have had to be rewritten on the fly for the last few fiscal years, creating instability and threatening to undermine the credibility of the Agency and everything that it has accomplished."
Ranking minority member George Brown said that he did not "share all of Sensenbrenner's views" but agree that some "good thought had gone into them". Brown also noted (to chuckles from the audience) that he thinks that he "will be a little more sympathetic to the [Clinton] Administration" on this whole matter.
Subcommittee Dana Rohrabacher, also reading a prepared statement, said "Fiscal Year 1999 begins on the 40th anniversary of the establishment of NASA. And while our space agency has achieved much over the past 40 years, it is the future and not the past that is our focus today. In that context NASA's FY99 budget - if we can believe it - is a tiny step in the right direction for this agency, but it is not a giant leap for America's future in space."