I'm excited to share with you a major step forward for the support of space exploration in the U.S. Congress: the official formation of the new Planetary Science Caucus.
A caucus is a formal interest group made up of members of Congress. Having a caucus allows legislators form new relationships and organize a core voting block of political support for an important issue, in this case, planetary science and space exploration.
According the caucus' official charter, its goals are to:
"Find life in our lifetimes," by advancing federal policies that support the search for life in our solar system and beyond.
Raise awareness of the benefits to the U.S. economy and industrial base resulting from federal investment in space science, technology, exploration, and STEM education.
Support private industry, academic institutions, and nonprofits that support space science and exploration.
This is the first caucus devoted to planetary science in the history of the U.S. Congress. And I'm very proud to say that The Planetary Society played an active role in its creation.
Recently, Bill Nye and our Space Policy & Advocacy team met with 18 congressional offices to discuss the new Planetary Science Caucus. Thanks to investments made by its members, The Planetary Society serves as the founding partner of this caucus.
Thanks to strong financial support from our members and thousands of small donors, The Society's Space Policy & Advocacy program has grown in size and capability over the past few years. We used this expanded in-house expertise to work closely with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to assist them in putting together the caucus and will provide ongoing support and outreach to the public and the scientific community.
The co-chairs of the caucus are Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) and Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA).
The Planetary Science Caucus will also be open to members of the Senate with Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) already signed up as original members.
Additional members in the House of Representatives include: Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA), Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), Rep, Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).
The caucus is planning a kickoff event later this May.
This is an important step for building critical bipartisan support for space exploration in the House and Senate. We're excited about the possibilities when lawmakers of all ideological stripes come together to share the passion and excitement of space science and exploration. The Planetary Society is excited to offer its support.