Yesterday House Majority Leader Tom DeLay visited NASA’s Johnson Space Center to celebrate winning effectively full funding for the agency in FY05, according to the Houston Chronicle and Galveston Daily News. Perhaps the most interesting comment he made suggests that support for the Vision for Space Exploration is not unanimous within the Bush Administration: “The president’s support has not wavered, but there are some within the administration that would like to see this money go elsewhere.” He added that NASA was the last agency dealt with during negotiations on the omnibus budget bill: DeLay reportedly said he would block the full omnibus bill if NASA did not get its full funding.
Some people, like Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, are already thinking ahead to FY06, according to a quote in the Chronicle: “However, in the future, the administration will need to propose, and Congress enact, a larger budget if we are to return to flight and pursue the moon, Mars and other bold initiatives for space exploration.”
Both the Chronicle and Florida Today note that the budget will eliminate the need for layoffs of shuttle or other workers. However, the Orlando Sentinel reported Tuesday that KSC plans to “phase out” 100 shuttle processing jobs, relying on attrition rather than layoffs. The report also said that similar steps are expected in shuttle offices at JSC.
Finally, the New York Times takes note of NASA’s fortunes in an overall review of the budget Tuesday, referring to the VSE as the “Mars Program” in the article’s headline. It plays up the fact that the across-the-board cuts in other programs were increased slightly to pay for the additional NASA funding. However, I think few will bemoan the fact in the Times article that the IRS also ended up with “substantially less” than requested…