Which "Compromise" Will Prevail?

House NASA Bill Puts Brakes on Commercial Crew Initiative, Space News

"According to the bill text, commercial crew programs would get just $50 million annually through 2015 and another $500 million over that same time period via direct government loans or loan guarantees. Although the bill fully funds the $4.2 billion sought for routine commercial cargo resupply runs to the space station starting in 2011, it reduces the president's $312 million request for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Service (COTS) program next year to just $14 million. The Senate version provided $300 million for the agency's COTS providers in 2011."

House, Senate have different ideas for NASA's future, Florida Today

"There is no additional shuttle flight, funding would be slashed for commercial rockets and NASA would be told to "restructure" the Constellation program that Obama wanted to kill. The bill diverges significantly from a measure approved by a Senate panel last week, which the White House supports. The differences threaten to delay consensus on the space agency's policy. "We are facing tough economic times that demand tough choices," said Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee."

NASA Legislation Embraced by Appropriations Committee Presents Unified Senate Position on Space

"Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, said the approval of the Commerce, Science, Justice Appropriations legislation by the Senate Appropriations Committee today presents a unified Senate position on NASA and the future of America's human spaceflight programs."

Keith's note: There may come a point where the White House says that they cannot support this "compromise". It all seems to hinge on whether the "compromise" that the White House got with the Senate prevails over the "compromise" that the House wants - one that the White House has been silent about thus far. Either way, Congress has thrown the original White House proposal back in OMB/OSTP's face in a form that more or less brings Constellation back to life (minus the name) albeit without Ares 1 or Altair. Ares V simply has a new name. And the commerical aspirations inherent in the White House plans? They are reduced (depending on which "compromise" you look at) to the point of being window dressing - if not outright irrelevant.

The fact that the White House has yielded to Congressional pressure can be seen a number of ways. You could just say that they are being pragmatic and realistic with regard to what can be realistically accomplished. But given the way in which they initially hurled the policy out with near zero pre-coordination, and then brought the President in for a quick fix when it flopped, you have to wonder if they even planned things in advance or considered the long term strategic issues that they'd need to address. And now they show little if any spine when Congress repudiates the entire package. This makes you wonder if the White House ever actually had serious interest in this policy in the first place. Indeed, this entire process has been composed of several sudden spikes of activity by the White House followed by long periods of disinterest and/or silence.

The fix is in for the time being, it would seem. But you all know that we'll all be revisiting this situation in 18-24 months when costs start to rise and an election amplifies the political rhetoric once again.

Is this any way to explore the solar system?

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on July 22, 2010 2:03 PM.

Showing NASA Some Love in the House was the previous entry in this blog.

California Reps Support White House Space Plan is the next entry in this blog.

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