NASA Faces Deep Budget Cuts Under Sequestration, Romney

Mitt Romney. (Credit: Gage Skidmore)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

NASA’s budget is facing deep cuts in January from two sources: sequestration and Mitt Romney.

If President Obama and Congress cannot work out a deal, sequestration will cut NASA’s budget by 8 percent or $1.458 billion in early January, according to a new report issued by the White House.

Meanwhile, Romney has promised if elected to send a bill to Congress on his first day in office, Jan. 20, that would slash non-security discretionary spending across the board. If the measure approved, it would result in a reduction of nearly $900 million from the space agency’s budget.

It is not clear if Romney would go ahead with the 5 percent reduction on top of sequestration cuts. Romney also has promised to cap non-discretionary spending below 2008 budget levels.

The table below shows potential cuts using NASA’s FY 2012 budget, which expires on September 30. It looks unlikely that Congress will pass an FY 2013 budget before that date. The government will run on a continuing resolution, which will keep spending at FY 2012 levels.

POTENTIAL NASA BUDGET REDUCTIONS, JANUARY 2012
ReductionNASA FY 2012 Budget
(Millions)
Percentage CutAmount Cut (Millions)
Reduced Budget
Sequestration$17,7708.2$1,458$16,312
Mitt Romney Budget Cut
$17,7705$888.5$16,881.5

Under either scenario, NASA’s spending would be well below the $17.318 billion the space agency spent in 2008.

It is impossible to know how NASA’s various programs would fare under Romney planned cuts. To date, the Republican Presidential candidate has not given any specifics about what he would do with NASA’s budget.

The White House released a report this week showing how reductions would be made under sequestration, which would take place in early January before any change of administration.

ESTIMATED NASA SEQUESTRATION CUTS
ACCOUNTREDUCTION
(MILLIONS)
Science$417
Space Operations$346
Exploration$309
Cross Agency Support$246
Aeronautics$47
Space Technology$47
Construction, Environmental Compliance and Remediation$32
Education$11
Office of Inspector General$3
TOTAL:$1,458