The House of Representatives passed the FY2016 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill (H.R. 2578) on June 3, 2015. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the measure, which includes funding for NASA and NOAA.
The highlights involving NASA’s budget include:
- $3.4 billion for Space Launch System, Orion and related ground systems, an increase of $546 million over the President’s request;
- $1 billion for Commercial Crew, a reduction of $243.8 million from the request;
- $625 million for space technology, a reduction of $100 million.
- $1.56 billion for planetary exploration, an increase of $196 million;
- $1.68 billion for Earth science, a reduction of $264 million;
- $140 million to begin work on the Jupiter Europa Clipper mission;
- $19 million to maintain operations of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and $13.7 million for the Mars Opportunity Rover;
- a requirement to use the Space Launch System for the Jupiter Europa mission; and,
- a stipulation that $25 million of the space technology budget “shall be for icy satellites surface technology and test beds.”
The table below has the full details.
|NASA FY 2016 BUDGET|
(In Millions of Dollars)
|PROGRAM||ADMINISTRATION REQUEST||HOUSE APPROVED BUDGET||DIFFERENCE|
|James Webb Space Telescope||$620.0||$620.0||$0.0|
|Jupiter Europa Clipper||$30.0||$140.0||$110.0|
|Exploration Systems Development||$2,862.9||$3,409.3||$546.4|
|Space Launch System||$1,356.5||$1,850.0||$493.5|
|Exploration Ground Systems||$410.1||$410.0||-$0.1|
|Research & Development||$399.2||$350.0||-$49.2|
|International Space Station||$3,106.6||$3,075.6||-$31.0|
|Space & Flight Support||$898.1||$881.7||-$16.4|
|Safety, Security and Mission Services||$2,843.1||$2,768.6||-$74.5|
|Construction & Environmental Compliance & Restoration||$465.3||$425.0||-$40.3|
The Obama Administration has issued a seven-page long veto threat for the legislation, with which it has many objections. The administration’s concerns about NASA funding are show below.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Commercial Crew Program. The Administration is disappointed that the Committee underfunded NASA’s Commercial Crew program by $243 million. This would delay the date for launching U.S. astronauts to the space station with U.S. rockets and force a continued reliance on Russian capabilities, which currently require payments to Russia of approximately $500 million per year.
Space Technology. The Administration urges the Congress to fully fund the FY 2016 Budget request for NASA Space Technology. Compared to the request, the bill reduces funding for these investments by $100 million, or 14 percent, delaying development of a cutting-edge laser
communication system; advanced, high power solar electric propulsion; and other space
technology demonstrations, slowing progress on the journey to Mars, and impacting the
international competitiveness of the U.S. commercial space industry.
Earth Science Missions. The Administration opposes the bill’s reductions of Earth Science by more than $200 million, jeopardizing missions that are helping us respond to earthquakes, droughts, and severe weather events and understand how the climate is changing. The bill also eliminates the launch of a key instrument used by western States to manage water supplies—while at the same time adding $500 million above the requested level for the Space Launch
Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act). The Administration urges the Congress to fully fund the FY 2016 Budget request for NASA and the National Science Foundation to implement the DATA Act. This funding will support the agencies’ efforts to provide more transparent Federal spending data, such as updating information technology systems, changing business processes, and employing a uniform procurement instrument identifier.
The Administration also expressed the following concerns about NOAA’s budget.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Infrastructure. The Administration objects to the bill’s funding level for NOAA’s Procurement, Acquisition, and Construction program, which precludes needed long-term infrastructure investments to collect critical environmental data. While the bill includes the requested funding for the current generation of critical weather satellites, it fails to provide the necessary resources to initiate the development of the next generation of polar-orbiting weather satellites. The continuity of these satellites has been highlighted as a high risk by independent groups and the Government Accountability Office. In addition to informing the day-to-day operations of businesses and individuals, weather data from NOAA satellites help predict the potential impact of extreme weather events, which lets communities and emergency responders prepare. Not only would the bill heighten the risk of a gap in satellite coverage, but its shortsighted reductions mean that the next generation of polar-orbiting weather satellites would cost taxpayers more. In addition, the Administration urges the Congress to provide the funding necessary to acquire a NOAA research vessel. NOAA’s aging research fleet plays a critical role in the research and management of marine resources, directly supporting coastal economies and environmental stewardship.
NOAA Operations. The Administration appreciates the Committee’s support for the National Weather Service; however, the Administration opposes the funding levels provided for the National Ocean Service and climate research programs, which are 15 percent and 32 percent below the FY 2016 Budget request, respectively. The reductions impact two high priority programs that help communities prepare for the effects of natural disasters and other ramifications of climate change and provide the science necessary to inform their preparations. The Administration also urges the Congress to provide the requested funding to support
infrastructure permitting consultations, which would reduce project timeframes and support economic development.