- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - On his 249th consecutive day in space, astronaut Scott Kelly told Congress that what he misses most is his friends and family on Earth and the chance to experience nature.

Testifying from space before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee on Wednesday, Kelly said it has been helpful to be able to grow things in the International Space Station, where he is stationed for a full year. In August, the astronauts in the station ate red romaine lettuce they grew there. Kelly says they are now growing flowers.

“There’s the nutritional aspect of it, but also there’s the psychological aspect about having something else green up here that’s living, that we can take care of, that we can see grow,” Kelly told the committee.

Kelly and fellow astronaut Kjell Lindgren testified for 20 minutes before the panel via live feed on Wednesday. Members asked them about space debris, their relationship with the Russian cosmonauts accompanying them on their mission and even their dental health.

The two astronauts talked about their current mission in terms of preparing for an eventual trip to Mars. Kelly said he thinks it’s doable but it rests on support from the government, including Congress.

“It’s expensive and we have different priorities,” Kelly said. “But I think it’s a trip that is worth the investment


Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid is heading into retirement next year. Before he goes he has some strong words for Republicans.

In a floor speech Wednesday, the Nevada lawmaker accused Republicans of “running on a platform of hate.” He said that the party and its candidates “demagogue women” and direct “insults and slander” at Muslim-Americans, immigrants, and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Reid directed his criticism at the party in general and at the GOP’s presidential candidates, citing comments by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson and others to accuse them of disparaging immigrants and minorities.

“The simple fact is that Republicans are running on a platform of hate,” Reid charged. “Every Republican who fails to speak out against the hateful, dangerous rhetoric being spewed by their party is complicit. For the moral character of our nation we must demand that Republicans return to the values on which our country was founded.”


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