Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Democrats
Posted: Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Today, the House unanimously passed H.R. 6076, the TREAT Astronauts Act, under suspension of the rules. The legislation provides NASA with statutory authority to perform monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment for former astronauts for medical or psychological conditions that the NASA Administrator deems to be associated or potentially associated with human spaceflight. In addition, under the program established in the bill, NASA would be able to acquire data from a larger set of participants and the data acquired on former astronauts would be more comprehensive.
Ranking Member of the Space Subcommittee, Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards’ (D-MD), floor statement is below.
“I rise in support of H.R. 6076 as amended, the TREAT Astronauts Act.
“The House-passed, bipartisan NASA Authorization Act of 2015 set the long-term goal of sending humans to the surface of Mars. The amendment to the TREAT Astronauts Act being considered today will help provide the research results needed to achieve this goal.
“As Chairman Babin noted, the amendment reflects compromise language agreed upon with the Senate in good faith.
“Committee Ranking Member Johnson and I want to thank Space Subcommittee Chairman Babin and his staff for working together to achieve bipartisan and bicameral consensus on this amendment.
“Chairman Babin and I both want to do the right thing for the health of our former, current, and future astronauts.
“That is why I was pleased to be an original cosponsor of this Act to provide for monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment of former astronauts.
“Our astronauts are heroes. They serve this Nation in the face of extreme risks. Some of those risks involve the potential for medical conditions that may not reveal themselves for years or even decades after an astronaut’s service.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that we, as a Nation, acknowledge the risks that these heroes have taken and, in return, provide our astronauts with the medical monitoring and treatment they need.
“It is also our responsibility to mitigate the risks for future NASA explorers, especially as we put in place the systems and missions to prepare the way for human exploration of Mars. Such risk mitigation requires data about astronauts’ medical and psychological health.
“H.R. 6076 as amended maintains the three principles I identified as critical to this legislation in the original bill.
“The first principle is getting care to former astronauts under this program as soon as possible. NASA has indicated that some former astronauts could already benefit from this new authority.
“As Chairman Babin noted, this bill provides NASA with supplementary authority. As such, I would expect that monitoring provided by NASA’s Lifetime Surveillance of Astronaut Health program will continue to be made available to any former astronaut or payload specialist electing not to participate in the program being established by this bill.
“The second principle is being respectful of astronaut rights and privacy. As we expand the amount of data collected on former astronaut health, it is important that we place a priority on ensuring the privacy of the data. NASA is tasked to report on how the agency will ensure the privacy of astronauts in the program when data is shared beyond the Federal Government.
“The third principle is ensuring that the program is in sync with the goal of sending humans to Mars. Expanded data acquired from the monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment of former astronauts and former Shuttle payload specialists will be invaluable for informing the requirements for new spaceflight medical hardware, and developing controls to prevent disease occurrence in the astronaut corps.
“It is also my hope that Congress and the Administration will enable NASA to get to Mars sooner rather than later.
“As part of that effort, we’ve got to establish the safeguards that will get our astronauts there and back safely.
“Supporting this bill allows us to stay on that vector.
“I ask my colleagues to support this bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.”
Please visit our website: http://democrats.science.house.gov
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