Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) has introduced a measure that would prevent the Obama Administration and any future president from canceling the Space Launch System and Orion crew vehicle programs without Congressional approval while freeing up hundreds of millions of dollars to be applied to those programs.
Bill H.R. 3625 targets terminal liability funds that Orion and SLS contractors are holding in reserve in case the government decides to cancel these programs for convenience. The measure says that “hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are unavailable for meaningful work on these programs.”
The measure would void any provisions in existing contracts that set aside termination liability funds, and prohibit the Administration from canceling these programs without Congressional approval. If Congress agreed to the cancellation, it would authorize additional expenditures to cover termination costs at that time.
Brooks has been a major supporter of both programs. He represents Huntsville, Ala., where the SLS is being designed at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
The bill says that the SLS and Orion programs — which are receiving a combined $3 billion annually — have been underfunded and are running behind schedule. And, in any event, program cancellations are rare.
“According to the Government Accountability Office, the Administration procures most of its goods and services through contracts, and it terminates very few of them. In fiscal year 2010, the Administration terminated 28 of 16,343 active contracts and orders—a termination rate of about 0.17 percent,” the bill states.
In 2010, the Obama Administration canceled the Constellation program, which included the Orion crew vehicle and the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles. Congressional action saved the Orion program while the Ares V heavy lift rocket became the Space Launch System.