Budget roundup

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.

7 comments to Budget roundup

  • Since 1990?

    How about 1993, when the station survived by a single vote?

    I’ll bet there was a debate then.

    Of course, if he means serious debate, that hasn’t really happened since Sputnik…

  • Mark Zinthefer

    I heard somewhere that folks were trying to get NASA’s budget detached from vets and housing. Am I the only one who’s heard that?

  • Cindy

    I agree with the statements in Florida Today article concerning the veto threat. A veto of the VA Budget at a time of war just because NASA was not funded as desired could turn out to be a political nightmare. So the likelihood of this veto actually occurring would be relatively small.

    Instead of attempting to push the Moon to Mars program through Congress, maybe we should consider making adjustments to the program and sell it as a long term strategy directed at developing a commercially based, manned, orbital space flight industry that would eventually become independent of government programs. As I have stated on previous post, there is a very interesting strategy at the following web site

    While the proposed strategy is not as prestigious as the Moon to Mars program, it could however be the catalyst that would lead to the development of a more commercially based manned space industry and redefine the role of government within the industry. You have to review all of the material on the web site, including the audio presentations, to gain a full understanding of the strategy. It makes sense.

  • Anonymous

    I heard somewhere that folks were trying to get NASA’s budget detached from vets and housing.

    You may hear that, but it’s never going to happen. Why should NASA get special treatment over other independent agencies?

  • Jeff Foust


    I agree that the 1990 reference seems odd. In addition to the 1993 vote (which was in the House, not the Senate, as I recall) there were a number of efforts on the floor of the House and Senate to introduce amendments to appropriations bills to kill the station. Those efforts in the Senate lasted through 1998 (after which Sen. Bumpers retired and no one picked up the torch). You can argue whether this was serious debate, since the station wasn’t in any real risk by the mid-90s, but there was debate on the floor as well as roll call votes.

  • Given just the date, I’d have thought (given that Moon-Mars is always on Frank’s mind) that he meant over SEI, but he specifically said station. Weird.

  • It looks like the Appropriations committee is marking up the VA-HUD bill tomorrow (Tuesday) at 2:30 pm – according to this schedule:

    Though maybe the 9-11 hearings scheduled for the morning will delay that. Anyway, given that they’re discussing the DC appropriations bill at the same time, it sounds like the full committee is involved. Did the subcommittee ever post a marked-up bill? Or are they just starting from the House version with the NASA cuts?

    Any news on whether the full senate is likely to ever get to vote on this?