A few items of note about the efforts to get NASA’s budget approved in Congress:
- Writing for UPI, Frank Sietzen describes the current budget situation with a baseball analogy, with the game tied in the bottom of the 8th inning and Congress at bat. He expects the Senate to take up the VA-HUD-independent agencies bill this week. Tight funding limits approved by Senate appropriators earlier this month could lead to cuts similar to what the House approved in July. If the appropriations bill makes it to the Senate floor, he says it could trigger “the first serious political debate about space spending since the 1989 and 1990 fights over the International Space Station.”
- A Florida Today editorial last week calls the current situation a “bogus game of political chicken” because of the reported veto threat. The editors rightly note that such a veto is unlikely because NASA’s budget is included in a larger appropriation that includes veterans and housing programs. (Also, the bill may end up in a larger omnibus budget bill that would be even more difficult for the President to veto.) The editorial calls on President Bush to “use a bit of his political energy on the campaign trail” to promote the benefits of NASA and the exploration vision.
- With the 2005 fiscal year to begin in less than two weeks, NASA and other federal agencies will need most likely a series of continuing resolutions (CRs) to keep operating until the final 2005 budget is passed. CongressDaily reported last week that some members of Congress are supporting the idea of a long-term CR that would keep those agencies funded for several months, perhaps as late as March 2005, at FY04 levels. This would avoid the need for a lame-duck session this year after the election. This could turn out to be a short-term boon for NASA, assuming the House’s version of the FY05 budget—$229 million less than the FY04 budget—wins out in the end. However, it might handcuff efforts to spend funds on exploration and other programs not included in the FY04 budget.