Congress: September 2010 Archives

House approves NASA Reauthorization Act 2010, Nature

"The sole dissenting voice during deliberations came from Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who chairs the House space and aeronautics subcommittee. "I have no reluctance in telling you that this is a bad bill, it will do damage to NASA and must be struck down," she said. Though she was ultimately unsuccessful in swaying her colleagues, she listed several problems with the bill, including the additional Shuttle launch, a 30 percent cut in funding for STEM and minority education, and that the bill will "force NASA to build a rocket designed by congress and not by NASA engineers."

Keith's note: Congress has been designing spacecraft for decades - in one way or another. They also force NASA to build things it no longer needs or does not want. When panels of experts suggest that NASA needs to change direction (Augustine), Congress (Giffords) ignores them and pushes ahead with their preferred rocket designs (Ares 1). I personally watched a House Science Committee staffer redesign the way that modules on the space station were going to be designed in the 1990s. I'm not certain who is keeping Rep. Giffords up to date in this regard, but congressional meddling in rocket science is a long-standing activity. I am not all certain why she is so upset about this - she does it too.

NASA Responds to House Vote

NASA Administrator Thanks Congress for 2010 Authorization Act Support

"The President has laid out an ambitious new plan for NASA that pioneers new frontiers of innovation and discovery. The plan invests more in NASA; extends the life of the International space station; launches a commercial space transportation industry; fosters the development of path-breaking technologies; and helps create thousands of new jobs. Passage of this bill represents an important step forward towards helping us achieve the key goals set by the President."

House Passes S. 3729

House Floor Schedule for September 29, 2010

"S. 3729 - National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 (Sen. Rockefeller - Science and Technology)"

Current floor proceedings (live updates)

Keith's note: formal vote under way at 11:35 pm EDT. 289 yea votes recorded - the bill passes no matter what.

Keith's note: 9:46 pm EDT the House just passed S. 3729 on a voice vote. Rep. Giffords wants a paper vote.

Keith's note: 9:03 pm EDT the House just began debate on S. 3729

NASA Administrator Calls Congressional Vote an Important Step Forward in Space Exploration

"We are on the verge of an historic vote in the House of Representatives on a comprehensive NASA authorization bill that is expected to chart the future course of human space flight for years to come. I am hopeful that S. 3729 -- the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010-- will receive strong support in the House and be sent onto the President for his signature."

Congress's budget battle leaves NASA without a clear mission, editorial, Washington Post

"This flawed bill only proves that the biggest challenges now facing NASA are on the ground. Members of Congress, hoping to protect jobs in their districts, have fought against the shutdown of the Constellation manned spaceflight program, which a blue-ribbon commission on the future of human spaceflight found to be doomed by excessive ambition and insufficient funds."

Griffin Urges House to Vote "No" on Senate NASA Authorization Bill, SpacePolicyOnline

"Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin disagrees with Rep. Bart Gordon that a flawed NASA authorization bill is better than no bill at all. In an email, Dr. Griffin argues that although the Senate bill is somewhat better than the Obama Administration's plan for NASA, "it is not enough better to warrant its support in law." His bottom line is that "If we cannot do better than that, then I believe we have reached the point where it is better to allow the damage which has been brought about by the administration's actions to play out to its conclusion than to accept half-measures in an attempt at remediation."

Realigning NASA's Direction

House Capitulates To Senate On NASA Bill, Aviation Week"

"I am hopeful the commercial providers will be successful, but, whereas they have missed contractual cargo milestones thus far, I am wary of being completely dependent on them, because if they fail, we will be dependent on the Russians for longer than absolutely necessary," Gordon said."

Keith's note: And of course Ares 1 is on schedule, on budget, and performing as designed, right Bart?

House likely to pass Senate's vision for NASA, The Hill

"The bill includes $1.6 billion to boost the commercial space industry, $400 million more than in Gordon's bill but still less than half the amount requested by the White House. But the Commercial Spaceflight Foundation said passing the Senate bill would be vastly preferable to continued uncertainy, which may result in layoffs."

Deal ready to steer NASA future, Houston Chronicle

"The compromise, if approved as expected by the House, will be essential to Houston's Johnson Space Center and likely spare at least some of the 1,100 aerospace layoffs that NASA contractors forecast before the House-Senate-White House consensus was reached. It also will bring some direction to the nation's $19 billion-a-year space program."

Lawmakers vote on NASA's direction tomorrow

"Under a suspension of ordinary House rules for debate and amendments, the bill would require a two-thirds majority for approval. It could still be months later, during a "lame duck" session of Congress after mid-term elections, before appropriators supply the agency with a promised funding increase. The bills offer a total of $58.4 billion over three years, including $19 billion next year."

Finally: A NASA budget looks ready to pass Congress Wednesday, Huntsville Times

"Local NASA watchers were optimistic Monday afternoon, saying any budget is better than last week's leading option, a continuing resolution freezing 2011 spending at this year's level. The 2011 fiscal year begins Friday. "If we have a continuing resolution, nobody knows what's going to happen," Huntsville attorney Mark McDaniel, who advises members of Congress on space issues, said Monday morning. McDaniel spoke hours before the chairman of the House NASA oversight committee, Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tennessee, issued a surprise announcement that the Senate's NASA plan - not his version - will be the one going forward."

Keith's note: Newsflash: No one is voting on a budget. This is an authorizing bill. The Continuing Resolution is going to happen - most likely this week - regardless of what the House does with the Senate version of NASA's authorizing legislation. The FY 2011 Appropriations bill is stalled - for the entire government - and Congress will be voting on a "Clean" CR to fund the government at current levels (with no adjustments) until such time as they can agree on a FY 2011 Appropriations Bill. The soonest that the Congress *might* vote on the FY 2011 budget is the lame duck session after the election. It is possible that this could drag on until the end of the year and possibly even until the new Congress is seated next year. As such, NASA will be operating under this CR until such time as Congress sees fit to pass a formal FY 2011 budget. During that time, regardless of what the Authorization Act says, their hands are tied by the CR.

Also, Bart Gordon is not "chairman of the House NASA oversight committee" he is chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology. A number of congressional committees regularly exert "oversight" over NASA.

Senate to move on stopgap spending bill, AP

"At the insistence of Republicans, who have refused to consider many important exceptions, we anticipate moving a clean CR that will clear the Senate and the House prior to the end of the fiscal year this Thursday," said Rob Blumenthal, a spokesman for Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye of Hawaii."

Leaders predict NASA funding, Florida Today

"Under a suspension of ordinary House rules for debate and amendments, the bill would require a two-thirds majority for approval. It could still be months later, during a "lame duck" session of Congress after mid-term elections, before appropriators supply the agency with a promised funding increase. The bills offer a total of $58.4 billion over three years, including $19 billion next year. But House approval of an authorization act this week would finally establish a new direction for NASA's human spaceflight program, adopting elements of controversial plans President Barack Obama proposed in February."

Chairman Gordon Statement on House Consideration of NASA Reauthorization

"I anticipate that the House will consider the Senate version of the NASA reauthorization on Wednesday. I still believe that the bipartisan Compromise language we released is a better approach. I have a number of concerns with the Senate bill ... It has become clear that there is not time remaining to pass a Compromise bill through the House and the Senate. For the sake of providing certainty, stability, and clarity to the NASA workforce and larger space community, I felt it was better to consider a flawed bill than no bill at all as the new fiscal year begins. I will continue to advocate to the Appropriators for the provisions in the Compromise language."

Nelson: Human-spaceflight program is 'teetering on the edge', Orlando Sentinel

"U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson warned Monday that if Congress does not pass NASA legislation this week, America's human spaceflight program could be "teetering on the edge" of disaster. Speaking at a space-program symposium sponsored by the University of Central Florida's Lou Frey Institute, Nelson said there's no time left in this year's congressional session for the House to consider a compromise bill it floated last week. Instead, he said, House members must accept a Senate measure passed in August."

Senate's NASA Authorization Bill Headed for House Floor, Space News

"Congressional aides said S. 3729, the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, is expected to come to the House floor under a suspension of the rules, which would limit debate on the measure and require a two-thirds majority of members present and voting in order to pass. Despite Gordon's reluctant support for the measure, opposition to S. 3729 is expected, particularly among House Republicans concerned with the three-year authorization's nearly $60 billion price-tag."

House Breaks Without Action on NASA Spending Bill, Space.com

"Even if Congress passes a NASA authorization bill this year, appropriations legislation is needed to fund the agency for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Lawmakers are not expected to take up that legislation until they return for a lame-duck session after the elections."

CSF Supports S.3729

Commercial Spaceflight Federation Strongly Supports Senate NASA Authorization Bill and Encourages Prompt Resolution Before New Fiscal Year Begins

"The Commercial Spaceflight Federation strongly supports Senate bill S.3729, the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, which has been approved unanimously by the Senate. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation urges that the House vote to pass the Senate bill immediately, before the new fiscal year begins on October 1."

Amendment in the Nature of a Subsititute To [....] offered by Mr. Gordon of Tennessee

House Sets Compromise NASA Language, Aviation Week

"The House Science Committee has moved toward the Senate on reauthorizing NASA spending for the next three years with compromise language that calls for an immediate start on a heavy lift launch vehicle able to orbit a capsule based on the Orion crew exploration vehicle by the end of 2016."

New House NASA Bill Provides $1.2B for Commercial Crew Taxis, Space News

"Gordon's revised legislation, which aides said could go to the House floor this week as a substitute to H.R. 5781, increases proposed funding levels for NASA commercial crew taxis to $1.2 billion over three years. That figure is still $400 million shy of the Senate's $1.6 billion recommendation for commercial crew and cargo initiatives, but represents a sizeable increase over the original $464 million through 2013 recommended in H.R. 5781."

House moves closer to Senate on NASA budget; Constellation hopes fade, Huntsville Times

"The substitute authorizes "a scalable capability of lifting payloads of at least 130 metric tons into low-Earth orbit on a single launch vehicle with an upper stage in preparation for transit for missions beyond low-Earth orbit." That's close to what the Senate has already passed. Gordon's substitute appears to dramatically lessen any chance of a revival of the Constellation program."

Action Alert - Help Kill HR 5781 NOW, Space Frontier Foundation

URGENT Action Alert Thursday 9/23/10, Space Access Society

A Pledge to America (Draft), full text, MSNBC

"- Cut Government Spending to Pre-Stimulus, Pre-Bailout Levels: With common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops, we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone and putting us on a path to begin paying down the debt, balancing the budget, and ending the spending spree in Washington that threatens our children's future.

- Establish a Hard Cap on New Discretionary Spending: We must put common-sense limits on the growth of government and stop the endless increases. Only in Washington is there an expectation that whatever your budget was last year, it will be more this year and even more the next. We will set strict budget caps to limit federal spending on an annual basis. Budget caps were used in the 1990s, when a Republican Congress was able to bring the budget into balance and eventual surplus. By cutting discretionary spending from current levels and imposing a hard cap on future growth, we will save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars."

Keith's note: So much for the Obama Administration's plans to increase NASA's budget ...

Extra NASA Funding on Hold Until Lame-Duck Session, Sen. Nelson Says, CQ

"Sen. Bill Nelson a leading champion of the nation's space program, said Tuesday that increased funding for NASA would have to wait until the lame-duck session after the Nov. 2 elections. Nelson, D-Fla., had hoped to insert language into the continuing resolution, or CR, that Congress must pass to keep the government running after the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30. "For us to be able to change the CR right now I don't think is realistic," Nelson said. Republicans have been demanding a "clean" CR, without extra funding or policy changes. Democrats will need at least one GOP vote to move the CR through the Senate."


Keith's note: According to Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation staffer Jeff Bingham, posting as "51D Mascot" at at NASAspaceflight,com: "The CR will NOT contain any new money or new language guiding NASA. Without an enacted authorization/policy bill, signed by the President, things will continue JUST as they have been, with the Constellation funding restricted, impounded, whatever you want to call it, but held back from the contractors, just as it has been for the past six months. That means even longer delays in ending the uncertainty, more unnecessary layoffs and disruption of lives and careers, and I just don't see that as a viable option ..."

Hoyer Won't Adjourn House This Week, ABC

"Ata briefing with reporters this morning, Hoyer blitzed through an ambitious to-do list to tackle before adjournment, including a NASA Reauthorization bill, the Child Nutrition Bill, and the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The House is currently targeting adjournment for October 8, although the majority leader would not commit today to returning for the week of October 4."

House may adjourn by end of week, Politico

"House leaders are considering adjourning as early as the end of this week, which would give lawmakers five and a half weeks to campaign before the Nov. 2 election but could also leave them exposed to allegations that they didn't finish their work in Washington. The House hasn't adjourned before Sept. 30 in an election year since 1960. There's been no decision made yet, and insiders caution that the scenario is dependent upon the Senate and House completing action on a stopgap spending bill to keep government agencies running through the election. But a House leadership aide said they are working with the Senate to pass the spending measure, known as a continuing resolution, "as soon as possible, so we'll see if Republicans expose how extreme they are to the American people by standing in the way (of the measure) and risking shutting down the government."

House Vs. Senate Over NASA

'Crunch time' for NASA budget as supporters of Senate, House version jockey for position

"Instead, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, confirms there has been pressure for the House to simply adopt the Senate plan. "There is behind-the-scenes lobbying by special interest groups to force a vote on the Senate NASA authorization bill in the House, with no chance to offer or vote on amendments," Aderholt said Wednesday in a statement. "While I appreciate some aspects of the Senate authorization bill, the House of Representatives deserves a vote on its own committee bill, and I hope Democrat House leadership schedules that soon."

The panel is being held in the Rayburn Building 2325, from 1:00 - 4:00 pm - Thursday, September 16th. It is being sponsored by AIAA and ASGSB. Several experts from various earth-based application fields will discuss how space exploration helps the United States' biological economy, and what the advances in telemedicine and life and biological sciences gained from the space program mean to our nation's long-term economic and physical health. The panel is open to the public.

HEFT Report Update

NASA Team's Space Exploration Proposal Aligns with Senate Bill, Space.com

In outlining a human asteroid mission that would launch several years past Obama's 2025 deadline, the HEFT recommended NASA begin work immediately on a space shuttle-derived heavy-lift rocket, skipping the five years of exploratory research Obama proposed. A set of the HEFT's charts, dated Sept. 2, were posted on the NASA Watch website. "There is no benefit to delaying work" on the heavy-lifter, the charts say, adding that waiting until 2015 to select a basic design would limit NASA's options and hamper exploration planning. NASA spokesman Michael Braukus said Sept. 10 that Bolden, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and Doug Cooke, NASA associate administrator for exploration systems, have been briefed on the HEFT's findings. He said no decisions have been made.

Human Exploration Framework Team Presentation Online, earlier post

Congressional (In)action

Keith's note: According to Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation staffer Jeff Bingham, posting yesterday at NASASpaceflight.com as" 51D Mascot": "In the meantime, the Congress will have to pass a Continuing Resolution by the end of September for those appropriations bills not yet adopted (which includes the CJS bill where NASA appropriations reside.) Without an adopted (enacted) NASA Authorization bill, funding levels--and allocations--for NASA funding levels would likely be defined as a continuation of the 2010 levels and allocations among accounts, leaving the Agency in the status quo of uncertainty and lack of clear direction for the future; a potential disaster for the skilled workforce and the related capabilities that would be needed to embark on the immediate development of a heavy-lift."

Commercial Space in Jeopardy - T Minus 18 Hours, Space Frontier Foundation

"The Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) called attention today to the latest battle taking place in the US House of Representatives that holds enormous implications for the future of spaceflight. In the next 18 hours, the House leadership will decide whether to allow a vote on the pork-laden House version of the NASA bill or instead pass the better Senate compromise. The SFF asks all commercial space supporters to contact their Congressman. Encourage them to vote 'No' on HR 5781 and allow a vote on the Senate version."

Short-Fuse Opportunity To Support NASA Reform, Space Access Society Bulletin

"We have a chance to head off HR.5781 at the pass over the next 24 hours. The House will be back in session starting next Tuesday 9/14, and is scheduled to remain in session through the first week of October. Only legislation formally placed on the House Calendar will be considered, and the contents of the Calendar will be decided before the end of this week, by Steny Hoyer, the House Majority Leader."

Space exploration remains vital issue given country's economic current woes, Marion Blakey, The Hill

"The House version of the bill is still pending, floating tetherless in space and awaiting a final pull that can land the matter in a final House-Senate compromise and into law. As time grows short in the legislative calendar, a final resolution seems less and less likely."

Augustine Panelist Rallying Support for Senate's NASA Bill, Space News

"A former member of a White House-appointed committee that reviewed NASA's human spaceflight program last year urged fellow panelists to back a Senate bill that supports commercial space and technology development efforts detailed in the group's final report."


Letter From House Science & Technology Committee Chair Bart Gordon to Prof. Scott Hubbard

"Finally, your letter makes no mention of the fact that the bill fully funds the president's budget request for Earth science and aeronautics research. You may be under the mistaken impression that such support can be taken for granted in Congress, but I can assure you that there are no "givens" in the highly constrained budgetary environment we are facing at present. The Committee's decision to support the significant augmentation in Earth science and aeronautics funding requested by the president imposed constraints on funding available for the programs you mentioned in your letter. I believe the Committee's judgment was the correct one, but it had clear budgetary consequences for NASA's other accounts. If you believe that additional funding for the programs you mentioned in your letter should take precedence over these science and aeronautics funding increases provided by the Committee, please inform me of that fact so that we can take your views into account in our deliberations on the final form of the NASA Authorization bill."

Concerns Raised Over House NASA Authorization Bill (Letter), earlier post


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