Congress: October 2013 Archives

Another year of sequestration would delay NASA missions, USA Today

"NASA spokesman Allard Beutel said Thursday that the agency was still assessing the impact of another year of sequestration and its "stifling constraints." Even holding at fiscal 2013 levels would be problematic because it's about $850 million less than the president's request. That would mean deep cuts in space technology, "the seed corn that allows the nation to conduct ever more capable and affordable space missions," Beutel said. It also would impede NASA's Commercial Crew Program to use private companies to carry astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017."

Vitter to Block Energy Dept. Nominee, Wants Answers about Work at NASA

"Under the Obama administration, NASA has been stalling on a job creating project at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans for no apparent reason," Vitter said. "Ms. Robinson needs to answer questions about why they've delayed the project, and other questions about NASA's operations before she leaves her job overseeing their finances."

Keith's note: Reminder to NASA employees: Sen. Vitter voted against sending all of you back to work during the shutdown. Is he really concerned about jobs? It depends what day of the week it is, so it would seem. Clearly this is all naked politics on Sen. Vitter's part. C'mon - if he was really concerned about the horrible things he accuses Beth Robinson of doing at NASA, why would he seek to delay her departure from NASA - wouldn't he want her gone already?

The Government Shutdown Was Temporary, Its Damage to Science Permanent, Scientific American

"In many ways the federal government shutdown was a huge, unplanned experiment in what happens when we give up on science for two weeks. The experiment is now over and the results are still incomplete. But so far, they are ugly."

Shutdown's science fallout could last for years, Politico

"Even if the government opens tomorrow, a significant amount of damage has been done," said Mary Woolley, president of Research!America, a nonprofit advocating for science-minded agencies. "This isn't about a few people who can't go to the labs like they're on vacation or something. The whole research enterprise depends on operating 24/7."

Science Gets a Cameo in U.S. Shutdown Vote, Science

"The day before the decisive vote, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), threw a rhetorical double-punch, linking concerns about home-state and international impacts in a plea to end the shutdown. Some "97 percent of NASA employees in Cleveland and Sandusky in northern Ohio have been furloughed," he noted, while Ohio's academic scientists were worried about their grants. "If you are a research scientist ... [and] see these interruptions, if you are furloughed for 3 weeks in October 2013 and then again some time next year ... the most talented researchers are going to walk away, and we are going to lose so much of the edge we have in this country."

Stunning View From High Above Saturn

"This portrait looking down on Saturn and its rings was created from images obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on Oct. 10, 2013. It was made by amateur image processor and Cassini fan Gordan Ugarkovic. This image has not been geometrically corrected for shifts in the spacecraft perspective and still has some camera artifacts."

Congressman Brooks Introduces Legislation to Restore NASA Funding and Workforce

"Today Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) introduced legislation to fund the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for Fiscal Year 2014. This legislation is consistent with Congressman Brooks' efforts to return furloughed personnel to work following the government shutdown."

Stockman introduces Keep NASA Open Act to shield Agency from shutdown

"Congressman Steve Stockman Wednesday joined Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL) to introduce the Keep NASA Open Act. The bill would guarantee NASA functions would continue to be funded should an agreement to fund the government not be reached soon."

Keith's note: Both Brooks and Stockman voted to shut the government down - so they were both for shutting NASA down - before they were against it. But wait - according to this press release from Rep. Stockman last week "Stockman's office meets with JSC employees to support restoring NASA funding" he said "Our calls from JSC employees this week are about nine to one in favor of standing strong against Obama's budget." So, if he was accurate - last week - then he should still be for shutting NASA down - this week - right?

Former NASA Managers Call for More Spending Despite Crunch, Space News

"Among those who spoke at the von Braun symposium was one of Constellation's chief architects, former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. Griffin, who ran NASA from 2005 to 2009, scoffed at the idea that NASA is operating in a budget-constrained environment. "We are in a willpower-constrained environment," said Griffin, who is now the Huntsville-based chairman and chief executive of science and engineering services contractor Schafer Corp. Griffin noted that 50 years of NASA spending, adjusted for inflation, was approximately equivalent to the roughly $800 billion stimulus bill signed into law in February 2009. Meanwhile, Cooke and another former NASA manager took shots at the "flat-is-the-new-up" mantra that has become prevalent among government-relations executives in Washington in the age of across-the-board sequestration budget cuts."

Testimony of Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Marion Blakey

"For support contractors working at NASA locations, this means they are unable to do their jobs. To compensate, larger companies are forced to encourage workers to take unplanned vacation time off or try to find other work that they can do elsewhere. Smaller firms often do not have this flexibility; in many cases September 30th marked the end of a contract period of performance. With no funding and no contract in place, small firms are keeping their workforce together at their own risk with no assurance the workers will be paid for the work done during the shutdown. For companies of all sizes, if the shutdown persists, these workers will face furloughs and, unlike furloughed Federal employees, there is no guarantee that will be reimbursed for lost wages. There is a real potential for a negative ripple effect throughout local economies in these regions. Other work that contractors are doing at NASA facilities - including preparations for the first Orion space capsule test launch in 2014 are shut down since contactors are not allowed access to the NASA facility where the work must be performed."

Nelson Tells Blakey: "Put a Fire Under Your Executives", Space Policy Online

"[Sen. Bill] Nelson was not assuaged. "You do not have to convince the White House," he admonished [AIA President Marion Blakely], adding that he had met "with two of your CEOs last week" and "they were not ready to step up and go talk to the [House] leadership" about the shutdown, but would if a debt default appeared likely. "Well, default is in another half a week," Nelson declared. "It's been a week and a half that we've been in shutdown. So I would implore you all to activate your people. Now where -- where are the people that are so affected at the Johnson Space Center in Houston? Where are they going to the congressional delegation and talking to them? And I could go through the NASA centers. ... But you need to put a fire under your executives."

Impact of the Federal Shutdown on Private Industry and the Nation: The NASA-Johnson Space Center Experience, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership

"Before the shutdown, JSC had approximately 3,200 federal employees and 11,000 private sector employees supporting its human spaceflight and exploration mission. As a result of the shutdown, JSC is closed, except for 100 federal and a very limited number of contractor employees who support the International Space Station's operations, which have been deemed critical, or in fed-speak 'excepted services.' For a company, the shutdown means that contract work stops. Employees who work in a federal facility are already home. Employees who work on a contract off JSC property will be furloughed as the respective contracts run out of money. That means about 20% of the 11,000 private sector company employees are furloughed now. About 60% will be furloughed by mid October. Over 90% will be furloughed by November 1. If the shutdown continues, an additional 10,000 people will not have a paycheck. Dozens of companies will have been severely weakened, and an entire support community of small service businesses will be damaged as their customer base erodes. These businesses include, but are not limited to, small disadvantaged businesses, women-owned and service disabled businesses. The short-term harm to workers and their families is incalculable. The longer-term harm to the companies is just beginning to be understood."

NASA researchers protest government shutdown, Palo Alto Online

"I'm supposed to be looking for planets, but I'm not," said Kepler mission scientist Natalie Batalha, whose words inspired the crowd to began chanting, "We love Kepler! We want Kepler!" She added that she would even volunteer her time to continue her work, but she can't. The crowd also cheered for Brian Day, EPO lead for LADDEE, the lunar atmosphere and dust environment explorer, when he said LADDEE had "just entered orbit around the moon." "It's a very interesting story and unfortunately we aren't telling it," he said. "Normally I'd be trying to prevent foreign countries from trying to hack into our data but I'm not doing that right now," said cyber-security expert Matt Linton. He said a "skeleton crew" was still doing that work, but that it would be "insufficient" in the longer term."

In limbo: Shutdown creates long-lasting impacts for NASA's JSC, Houston Business Journal

"At NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, only about 100 of the 3,150 civil servants regularly employed at the center are not furloughed. Hundreds more local contractors working with NASA have been furloughed and more contractor furloughs could come any day, said Tim Budzik, managing director of the Houston Technology Center's JSC campus."

Stockman's office meets with JSC employees to support restoring NASA funding

"Our calls from JSC employees this week are about nine to one in favor of standing strong against Obama's budget."

Keith's note: Rep. Stockman voted to shut the government down in the first place - and now he claims that 90% of JSC employees supported that vote?

NASA ban on Chinese scientists 'inaccurate': lawmaker (Update), PhysOrg

"However, Wolf's office issued a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Tuesday seeking to correct an article on the matter that first appeared Friday in The Guardian newspaper, as well as NASA's stance. "Unfortunately, the article is riddled with inaccuracies, as is, it appears, the guidance provided by NASA Ames staff to the attendees," said the letter. The law "primarily restricts bilateral, not multilateral, meetings and activities with the Communist Chinese government or Chinese-owned companies," it said. "It places no restrictions on activities involving individual Chinese nationals unless those nationals are acting as official representatives of the Chinese government." Wolf said NASA officials may have believed that the move was needed because of extra temporary restrictions on foreign nationals after a potential security breach by a Chinese citizen at a NASA facility in Virginia earlier this year."

Second Kepler Science Conference Statement from the Science Organizing Committee

"In late March, 2013, NASA, in response to Federal legislation, imposed a moratorium on visits to NASA facilities by citizens of several nations, including China. The legislation in question was initially crafted by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) to reflect national security concerns, with further modifications and restrictions added to the 2013 bill. The Scientific Organizing Committee (SOC) of the Second Kepler Science Conference (KSC2) learned about this moratorium in late September, as the final agenda was being constructed, when 6 of our Chinese colleagues who preregistered for the KSC2 had their registrations denied."

Keith's note: Given the relentless investigations, letters, and outright nasty badgering that Rep. Wolf has given NASA over this issue, it is small wonder that the agency made this decision. After all, Rep. Wolf had already ordered investigations into previous Chinese participation in NASA meetings and ordered NASA to do overhauls of various online servers and facility access procedures after a Chinese national was found with porn on his laptop. Now Wolf sends NASA a letter criticizing the agency for taking his rants and demands seriously. Its hard to figure out just what this guy does or does not want NASA to do.

In his letter to Bolden - supposedly sent about this meeting and Chinese nationals - Wolf veers from one topic to another - and does a copy/paste of text from earlier rants - clearly demonstrating that he has a vendetta against NASA - and Ames staff in particular. He will use whatever happens to be on his desk or in his waste basket to throw at them with the hope that something will stick.

Wolf Letter to NASA's Bolden Correcting Record on Restrictions Involving Chinese Nationals

"In one troubling example, last month, The Wall Street Journal reported on a Space Act Agreement between Ames and Google's executives to use taxpayer-subsidized airplane fuel intended for military aircraft for personal travel by Google's leadership. A dubious scientific data collection scheme appears to have been developed as an excuse for this preferential treatment for these executives."

- Astronomers Dump on NASA About China When Congress Is To Blame, earlier post
- Attn Frank Wolf: Bo Jiang Had Porn - Not Secrets - on His Laptop, earlier post
- Wolf Addresses Arrest at Dulles Airport of Chinese National Potentially Involved in NASA Langely Security Violations, earlier post
- Congress Vs NASA on China (Home Alone with Wolf and Bolden), earlier post
- Bad Research By Rep. Wolf's Staff
- Wolf to Bolden: Disinvite Those Chinese Visitors, earlier post
- Rep. Wolf's China Witch Hunt Resumes (Update), earlier post

NASA Will Face Solomon's Choice in 2014, Dennis Wingo

"If a budget in the range of $16.6 billion is what happens NASA will have a major problem maintaining both the International Space Station (ISS) and the SLS/Orion Exploration program. Given that the funds are simply not going to be available to keep the ISS alive and functioning and to fully construct and operate the SLS/Orion system, something has to give. Are we going to have to kill one to insure the other's survival? That is the choice that that is presenting itself - a clear recipe for disaster as far as NASA's human space flight plans are concerned."

NASA on Pause

Science and the shutdown and a lonely birthday for NASA, PBS News Hour

"If a satellite mission has not yet been launched, work will generally cease on that project," NASA's shutdown plan reads. "The extent of support necessary and the time needed to safely cease project activities will depend on whether any of the activities are of a hazardous nature (e.g., parts of the satellite may need to be cooled)." Work preparing for the Mars MAVEN mission, which was slated for a Nov. 18 launch, for example, has stopped, and could delay the craft's planned mission to Mars."

NASA Hit by Government Shutdown, National Geographic

"Elsewhere at the space agency, the effects of the shutdown will become worse over time, says Keith Cowing of NASA Watch: "If they only lose a few days, then we lose a week of work, but over time there will be a satellite that has a problem or a design change that doesn't get fixed in time and we will see real impacts."

Government shutdown: NASA turns 55 - and turns out the lights, Christian Science Monitor

"Due to government shutdown, we will not be posting or responding from this account. Farewell, humans. Sort it out yourselves," tweeted the operators of NASA's Voyager 2's Twitter account, last night. Meanwhile, the agency's planning for future missions - where to land the next mission on Mars; which asteroid to lasso; and what to do with a future lander on Europe - has gone quiet. The shutdown will put some 97 percent of NASA's staffers on un-paid leave: just 549 of the agency's employees are expected to work, out of its some 18,250 staffers."

NASA Shutdown Is Underway

Statement by the President

"NASA will shut down almost entirely, but Mission Control will remain open to support the astronauts serving on the Space Station."

NASA Planning for a Lapse in Appropriations Update, NASA Memo

"If a FY 2014 continuing resolution is not passed before 12:01 AM on October 1, NASA can only engage in activities related to the orderly shutdown of operations and performance of excepted activities. As a required part of a shutdown, employees who will not be performing activities excepted by law will be furloughed and unable to work for the duration of the shutdown, unless recalled for an excepted activity."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Congress category from October 2013.

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