Congress: May 2021 Archives

Committee Leaders Request GAO Review of Cybersecurity Risks at NASA

"Today, Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), along with Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Don Beyer (D-VA), and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Brian Babin (R-TX) sent a letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro requesting the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a review of the cybersecurity risks to the sensitive data associated with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) major projects and spaceflight operations."

Keith's 21 May update: Earlier this week Bill Nelson suggested that NASA could solve all of its financial woes by getting $10-11 billion out of the new Infrastructure bill. Well, tick tock. Republicans balked at the overall bill so President Biden came back with a smaller counter offer. There will likely be more. It looks like there is a lot less money in the cookie jar - and R&D is no longer going to be a priority. As I mentioned below, Nelson's faith-based budget plan really does not have a Plan B in case the infrastructure windfall he hopes for does not happen. Well ... half a trillion dollars just disappeared from the infrastructure bill that we were all looking at when Nelson testified.

Here's what's in Biden's counteroffer on infrastructure, CNN

"The new plan would reduce the size of Biden's initial proposal, known as the American Jobs Plan, from $2.25 trillion to $1.7 trillion and make four key concessions, according to the counteroffer document obtained by CNN. ... Research and development: $180 billion: This is another investment Biden is prepared to take off the table. His original plan called on Congress to invest $180 billion to advance US leadership in critical technologies, upgrade the US's research infrastructure and establish the US as a leader in climate science, innovation and research and development."

Statement of: The Honorable Bill Nelson Administrator, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations

"President Biden's FY 2022 discretionary funding request, transmitted in April, is $24.7 billion for NASA, an increase of more than six percent over the FY 2021 enacted level. This funding supports the programs summarized here and supports significant NASA contributions to Administration priorities."

Keith's 20 May note: In yesterday's FY 2022 budget hearing Bill Nelson touched on a lot of things but two stood out: the HLS (Human Landing System) contract and getting more money for NASA. His prepared testimony matches with what he said during questioning. But one thing that is wholly absent from this prepared statement is where he expects to try and get billions in new funds - billions and billions of dollars' worth.

Nelson decided that the way for NASA to get out of the fiscal mess it is in is to do a Hail Mary pass and dive into the new TBD Jobs Bill that the Administration is formulating and grab some dollars. He said "You can put $5.4 Billion into the jobs bill for the HLS that would be at the end of the day producing jobs. Another $200 million could go into that bill for spacesuits." He went on to say "We can also put $585 million on nuclear thermal propulsion."

Nelson then turned to another pot of forthcoming money - the multi-trillion dollar Infrastructure bill and said "Part of the jobs bill is infrastructure - there's another $5.4 Billion. Look at NASA facilities in your state (congressman) - there is aging infrastructure." Do the math. All told, it looks like he wants to raid the cookie jar for something like $10 - 11 billion. One would assume that OMB is on board with this plan.

Keith's note: The nomination hearing for Pam Melroy to become Deputy Administrator of NASA is supposed to begin at 10:15 am EDT.

You can watch live here at Congress and here at NASA.

Testimony of Colonel Pamela Melroy Before The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation May 20, 2021

"NASA is unique because its programs are awe-inspiring and have the potential to fundamentally change humanity's understanding of the universe. NASA's role is collecting data about the Earth system and understanding the effects of climate change will be essential to those tasked with determining policy. If confirmed as Deputy Administrator, I will work closely with NOAA and ensure a robust program of Earth data collection and dissemination."

House Appropriations CJS subcommittee Hearing: FY 2022 Budget Request for NASA

Keith's note: This is the first time that NASA Administrator Senator Astronaut Bill Nelson faces Congress. There is no mention made of the hearing on the NASA TV calendar. But wait - the NASA TV site says it will air the hearing at 2:00 pm. So much for the accuracy of the NASA TV calendar I suppose.

Blue Origin's loss to SpaceX on the lunar lander contract may get Congress to do something it hadn't done before: Give NASA extra money, Washington Post

"Along with Dynetics, the defense contractor that also lost out on the contract, Blue Origin protested NASA's decision, saying the space agency "executed a flawed acquisition." It also took to Capitol Hill, lobbying its allies in Congress to force NASA to come up with the additional money and make a second award. On Wednesday, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) of Washington state, where Blue Origin is headquartered, came through, introducing legislation that calls for NASA to do just that. The legislation, which passed as an amendment to another bill, would authorize but not appropriate an additional $10 billion to the Artemis program through fiscal 2026. It also calls for NASA to pick a second winner for the contract."

Senate committee approves 2021 NASA Authorization, requires second HLS system, Space Policy Online

"This new NASA authorization bill would require NASA to fund HLS design, development, testing and evaluation "for not fewer than 2 entities" and gives the agency just 30 days after the bill is enacted into law to do it. How NASA could implement that in such a short time is a mystery. It went through a source selection process and chose a winner with documentation as to why. That decision is under protest at GAO, which must make a ruling by August 4. GAO can uphold the award or require NASA to change its decision. Either way, how an additional layer of congressionally-directed procurement action would affect that process is murky and could hang like a Damoclean sword over HLS, delaying its development and the timeline for putting astronauts back on the Moon. HLS is necessary for ferrying crews between lunar orbit and the surface."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Congress category from May 2021.

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