President Obama’s FY 2015 budget request for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) essentially eliminates funding for the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) program operated out of Palmdale, California. David Turch and Associates was tasked by the City of Palmdale to mobilize and secure congressional support to restore full funding -- $87 million -- for SOFIA. Termination of the program would result in the direct loss of over 200 high-paying jobs in the Palmdale region. We immediately engaged key House and Senate Appropriations Committee Members and enlisted the support of the California Congressional Delegation. We organized a Palmdale City advocacy trip to Washington, DC prior to the NASA budget markup by the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee. The Palmdale delegation met with top NASA representatives including the official in charge of handling funding justifications for the Astrophysics Division. The Palmdale group had meetings with Kevin McCarthy, then House Majority Whip, whose congressional district stretches into the Antelope Valley, as well as with the Republican and Democratic leadership of the CJS Subcommittee. We leveraged local business and labor interests for the project on Capitol Hill. We duplicated our efforts on the Senate side, working closely with Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. We coordinated our legislative advocacy efforts with research stakeholders from northern California. The end result was a House mark of $70 million and a Senate mark of $87 million. The current continuing resolution for FY 2015, which expires on December 11, 2014, allows NASA to continue to fully operate SOFIA. The respective House/Senate appropriations marks, moreover, ensure that the program is funded through the end of 2015 fiscal year.
On behalf of a County client in Montana, the firm has successfully modified the proposed expansion of the Powder River Training Complex in Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas. The expansion is scheduled to take place this year. We worked closely with the Congressional delegation from the relevant states and were able to insert language into Senate legislation and FAA regulations. This was a significant achievement for a rural county in eastern Montana, and allowed them to protect their economic and cultural interests.