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The First Major NASA Appropriation for the "Moonshot Program"

May 06, 1965
The First Major NASA Appropriation for the "Moonshot Program" Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
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After nearly 15 years in the Senate, Claude Pepper of Florida returned to Congress as a Member of the House in 1963, serving until his death in 1989.
On this date, the House voted in favor of a $5.18 billion authorization for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In 1961, during a Joint Session before Congress, President John F. Kennedy challenged America to send a man to the moon before the end of the decade. President Lyndon B. Johnson continued his predecessor’s fervent support for the civilian space program and stressed the need for adequate federal funding to ensure that the U.S. keep pace with the Soviet Union in the increasingly competitive space race during the Cold War. “If any fault is to be found hereafter with the progress of our space program,” Claude Pepper of Florida remarked during floor debate about the continuation of funding for NASA’s quest for a moon landing, “I do not want it to be on my hands at least and more importantly, I do not want it to be on the hands of this House of Representatives.” Although the majority of Representatives in the 89th Congress (1965–1967) favored the substantial appropriation for space exploration, Congressman H. R. Gross of Iowa voiced the concerns of the few dissenters. “It seems to me that we had better think in terms of pulling back on this moonshot business until we can catch up with ourselves in the matter of spending.” Ultimately, the House reaffirmed its support for Kennedy’s lofty goal by overwhelmingly backing the measure by a vote of 389 to 11.

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