Palazzo Vision is Back: Rep. Threatens to Cut “Costly and Complex Distractions” From NASA’s Budget

Rep. Steven Palazzo
Rep. Steven Palazzo

Rep. Steven Palazzo, (R-MS), chairman of the House Space Subcommittee, has released a rather ominous statement in which he uses frayed relations between the United States and Russia to take a hatchet to NASA’s budget. I’ve put the key phrase in bold.

“When the Obama Administration ended the Constellation program, our nation was forced to depend upon Russian rockets to carry American astronauts into space and maintain a U.S. presence on the International Space Station (ISS). Thankfully, NASA currently maintains access to ISS. But as relations with Russia have been strained over the past few weeks, we can no longer afford to ignore the issues NASA faces. If we are serious about once more launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil, we must make tough decisions within NASA’s budget. Only when the budget has been stripped of costly and complex distractions will it once again reflect the priorities of the sole government agency tasked with space exploration. In a world that is not getting safer, I believe these are not only matters of national pride, but also of national security.”

Oh, now….what could those distractions be? What indeed? Let me take a wild guess as to what Palazzo has in mind:

  • Commercial crew. Nothing seems to bother the pro-private sector, anti-government Republicans in the House more than this effort to turn over this function to commercial companies.  My guess is Palazzo either tries to force NASA to down select to one provider immediately, or he tries to cancel the program outright.
  • Space Launch System/Orion. The very type of mega-government program that conservatives hate (unless its in their district and state) will be fully funded. The subcommittee might actually request that plans to put crews aboard the Orion vehicle be moved up from 2021.
  • Earth sciences. The Republicans have stocked the House Science Committee with global warming deniers. Not one believes that climate change really exists, or that it poses any serious threat to the planet. So, look for that budget to be raided.
  • National security. Palazzo will somehow re-define the Space Launch System and Orion as having some type of vital national security role. What that role is will never really be clear. But, it won’t stop them from trying.

Hopefully, this doesn’t get any further than the Space Subcommittee. Palazzo and his merry band tried to radically rewrite NASA’s budget last year. None of their ideas really went anywhere.

  • Aerospike

    Every time that I feel the politicians in my country are the most stupid and/or ill informed in the world, a Republican* comes forth and makes me feel a little better again 😉

    * Not implying that all Republicans are bad/stupid/whatever, but I can’t help to notice that people with reality distortion glasses tend to come from that camp more often than from other places…

  • Denniswingo

    Just go to open to see where his campaign contributions are coming from.

  • Paul451



    (ATK) Alliant Techsystems $10,000
    Lockheed Martin $10,000
    Boeing Co $6,000
    Northrop Grumman $5,000
    Raytheon Co $5,000
    Sierra Nevada Corp $5,000

  • windbourne

    Well, keep in mind that since 1993, the GOP and the dems have blocked 3rd parties for federal positions. As such, the GOP is now divided into 3 or more groups of ppl:
    1) the original republicans, akin to Lincoln, Teddy, and IKE, that are social moderates, fiscal conservatives. These ppl have been mostly ran out as RINOs.
    2) the neo-cons, which are the followers of reagan and W. They are social conservitives, and do not care about fiscal, except when dems are in power. The vast majority of our deficit comes from them. In particular, this is the group pushing the SLS, and at the same time, trying to destroy private space.
    3) the tea*. Interesting group. they claim one thing, but do another. They speak against deficits, while allowing the deficit to remain high because there was no tax cuts that they wanted. Likewise, they claim that it is Obama that is pushing the SLS and fighting private space, while it is the house neo-cons/tea* that are not just pushing the SLS, but working to destroy private space.

    All in all, you really can not declare that this is about the GOP, since it really is not. It is about sub-groups within this party because they had no choice. If you can get your party (I assume that it is the dems) to insist on debates with 3rd parties (say all those with more than 2% of the voters), and to insist that the debates return to a neutral party of the LOWV, then it will be possible to get rid of extremists in both major parties.

    BUT, I doubt that the dems will go along. After all, the greens combined with SCOTUS gave W the first election.

  • Eric Thiel

    Sierra Nevada gives $5000, wonder how he feels about the Dream Chaser then?

  • therealdmt

    I rarely get all worked up over congress and such.
    This, however, is really chapping my hide.

  • Robert Gishubl

    As Orion is not meant for LEO or supporting ISS then the complex and costly distraction stopping NASA launching to ISS is SLS/Orion. So by cancelling SLS/Orion and spending on commercial crew NASA will be in a position to launch US astronauts to the ISS sooner say 2016. Perhaps test flights as soon as 2015 with Dragon.

  • Vladislaw

    What about the bi partisan congress that refused to fund the CONstellation program? Including republicans from the space states? President Obama has been unable to get a simple 1 billion dollar veterans job bill through the house of NO and the fillibuster senate, but he can cancel programs wholesale and not a peep from congress… you are pretty laughable Palazzo.

  • Vladislaw

    Here is a better read on NeoCons:

    “What are the roots of neoconservative beliefs?

    The original neocons were a small group of mostly Jewish liberal intellectuals who,in the 1960s and 70s, grew disenchanted with what they saw as the American left’s social excesses and reluctance to spend adequately on defense. Many of these neocons worked in the 1970s for Democratic Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, a staunch anti-communist. By the 1980s, most neocons had become Republicans, finding in President Ronald Reagan an avenue for their aggressive approach of confronting the Soviet Union with bold rhetoric and steep hikes inmilitary spending. After the Soviet Union’s fall, the neocons decried what they sawas American complacency. In the 1990s, they warned of the dangers of reducingboth America’s defense spending and its role in the world.Unlike their predecessors, most younger neocons never experienced being left of center. They’ve always been “Reagan” Republicans.

    What is the difference between a neoconservative and a conservative?

    Liberals first applied the “neo” prefix to their comrades who broke ranks tobecome more conservative in the 1960s and 70s. The defectors remained moreliberal on some domestic policy issues. But foreign policy stands have alwaysdefined neoconservatism. Where other conservatives favored détente andcontainment of the Soviet Union, neocons pushed direct confrontation, whichbecame their raison d’etre during the 1970s and 80s. Today, both conservatives and neocons favor a robust US military. But mostconservatives express greater reservations about military intervention and so-called nation building. Neocons share no such reluctance. The post 9/11-campaigns against regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrate that the neoconsare not afraid to force regime change and reshape hostile states in the Americanimage. Neocons believe the US must do to whatever it takes to end state-supported terrorism. For most, this means an aggressive push for democracy”

  • Aerospike

    I think I get what you are trying to say, but as someone who isn’t American it is not easy to understand every detail of US politics that you mentioned (had to look up lots of acronyms for example). As a European, US politics can be very puzzling sometimes, but I guess it this goes both ways 😉

  • Dennis

    Or the CST-100 😛

  • Tonya

    Unless you’re paying, he won’t hear you.

  • Robert Gishubl

    Too true. Logic does not count nor actual economic benefit only cold hard cash donations.

  • Henry Vanderbilt

    The statement looks to be deliberately vague as to what Rep Palazzo might consider a “costly and complex distraction” (presumably then to be raided for more SLS funding.) I’d guess more will be revealed in Wednesday’s Space Subcommittee markup of a draft NASA Authorization bill.

    I’ve been hearing all sorts of interesting rumors, but for now all I can say for sure is it’s going to be an interesting season in DC space politics.

  • windbourne

    Sorry. I should have thought about thing WRT acronyms.

  • Arthur Hamilton

    Palazzo is an idiot. He’s been bought out by Lockheed, Boeing, ATK & Sierra Nevada. His budget distractions are Space X & if he must fund commercial crew, his choice will be CST-100 & Dream Chaser as a backup. That’s why they are pushing so hard to get the RD-180 built in the U.S.

  • Denniswingo

    Shelia Jackson Lee, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid. Sorry but congress has equal opportunity stupidity in spades.

  • Teslanedison

    I’m all for cutting the carbon tail chasing in favor of serious manned flight, yes we need to track the changing climate, but more importantly we need to come up with systems to desalinate and move trillions of gallons of water to desert locations and change construction codes in regions where hurricanes and tornadoes regularly hit, standard code should be a concrete dome home, not wooden fodder. So far as commercial flight is concerned, it must continue as the conglomeration of government contractors has become too corrupt and inefficient to deliver actual products before going over budget and being cancelled.

  • windbourne

    It is not what you think.
    He is also on the committee for armed services.
    As such, most of these monies are probably going to buy contracts from the military.

  • windbourne

    SNC makes the vast majority of their money working with the military, NSA, and NRO. This is most likely not about dream chaser.

  • Tom Billings

    Windbourne, please note that most of the pols pushing pork from SLS/Orion are former Democrats, some as recently as Alabama’s Senator Shelby, who only switched in 2005. As you say, which progressive group (and the political descendants of LBJ are just that) matters little. The real key is that they need near-feudal dependence locally, and can only get that by providing NASA money near NASA Centers.

  • Chris Martyn

    oh , so this is the issue, quite interesting, but i didn’t get it really well.

  • windbourne

    Shelby switched in 1995.
    And oddly, when he was a dem, he wanted more spending cuts, lower taxes, but now, he continues to push for a great deal of spending, as long as it flows to the republican party.

    As to the dems, a number of them also back the SLS/Orion.
    BUT, next to none of them are pushing to kill off private space. That one belongs to the house republicans, or more specifically, the neo-cons/tea*.

    Do note that there is one dem who has joined the pubs on this. THat is the gal in Md who pushes the NGST. She wants NOTHING to compete against it, and fears private space will gut that. Sad way to think.

  • Guest

    spam. Please delete both the parent and mine.

  • Tom Billings

    Actually, there was a dem here in Oregon, of all places, who I sat in front of at a townhall meeting, and heard him wax eloquent in 2010 about how private spaceflight could not be ready for human spaceflight for another 50 years. His BS level was so high I got curious, and looked around locally. The key was that he was tight for campaign cash up until a few months before that. Even though our NASA spending is near-zero here, ATK is a conglomerate, with a warehousing facility here in Portland. Fortunately, Wu melted down one too many times on other issues, and the local dems replaced him.

    No oddity at all about an Alabama dem disliking spending elsewhere, just so long as the major employer in Northern Alabama keeps pumping votes into his column. Marshall Space Fight Center continues to be Alabama’s hope for industrial growth. There is where SLS funding is centered, of course.

    The South has been rife with feudal politics since before the Civil War, when the larger plantation owners controlled State politics using their control of local politics as their base. The connection is that Southern pols were taught by LBJ that NASA could give each of them the ability to use LBJ’s line out of “The Right Stuff”, …”Look what Ahhh brought youuu!!”. (This during his little 1963 birthday party for himself and 10,000 of his closest friends, in the Astrodome.) To this day, Texas has more congressional delegates in the SLS/Orion coalition than anyone. Yes. JSC is the managing Center for Orion.

    The simple fact is that the entry of Southern dems into the Republican Party is what provided the larger part of the “Trent Lott Faction”, still dominant in the Party. This persists, even though Lott himself has moved on, to “K Street”. The feudal attitude of that faction remains, and resists the TEA Party wherever they cannot co-opt them.