Vote on NASA Bill Appears Unlikely Before September
A controversial House NASA authorization bill that appeared headed for a floor vote July 30 has stalled, and it appears unlikely the measure will be taken up before lawmakers leave town for a six-week summer break that begins Aug. 2.
House leadership aides said just before midnight July 29 that the bill, a three-year authorization that recommends funding the U.S. space agency at roughly $19 billion a year through 2013, would not be taken up July 30, and that it is very unlikely the measure will come to a vote before lawmakers head home to campaign in their districts.
Although the bill, H.R. 5781, would not actually fund NASA, it would set guidelines for how much Congress can spend on the agencyâ€™s programs. In June House appropriators approved a $19 billion budget for NASA next year, but fenced off most of the agencyâ€™s $4.2 billion human space exploration budget pending enactment of an authorization bill.
The House Science and Technology Committee approved H.R. 5781 with strong bipartisan support July 22, sending forward a bill that authorizes only a small fraction of the $3.3 billion NASA sought to invest in a commercial crew transportation system over the next three years. The bill authorized $150 million through 2013 for commercial crew and another $300 million in the form of government-backed loans or loan guarantees. The measure also would continue much of the work being done under NASAâ€™s Constellation program, a 5-year-old effort to build new rockets and spacecraft optimized for lunar missions that President Barack Obama targeted for termination in his 2011 spending proposal delivered to Congress in February.
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