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[i]Testifying May 4 before the House Appropriations commerce, justice, science subcommittee, White House science adviser John Holdren said near-term engagement with China in civil space will help lay the groundwork for any such future endeavor. He prefaced his remarks with the assertion that human exploration of Mars is a long-term proposition and that any discussion of cooperating with Beijing on such an effort is speculative.
"[What] the president has deemed worth discussing with the Chinese and others is that when the time comes for humans to visit Mars, it's going to be an extremely expensive proposition and the question is whether it will really make sense -- at the time that we're ready to do that -- to do it as one nation rather than to do it in concert," Holdren said in response to a question from Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), a staunch China critic who chairs the powerful subcommittee that oversees NASA spending...
Recently enacted legislation prohibits U.S. government collaboration with the Chinese in areas funded by Wolf's subcommittee, whose jurisdiction also includes the U.S. Commerce and Justice departments, the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
When asked how he interpreted the new law, part of a continuing resolution approved in April that funds federal agencies through Sept. 30, Holdren said the administration will live within the terms of the prohibition.
"I am instructed, after consultation with counsel, who in turn consulted with appropriate people in the Department of Justice, that that language should not be read as prohibiting actions that are part of the president's constitutional authority to conduct negotiations," Holdren said. "At the same time there are obviously a variety of aspects of that prohibition that very much apply and we'll be looking at that on a case by case basis in [the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy] to be sure we are compliant."[/i]
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