Budget news

Late Monday NASA announced its plans for a press conference on February 7 to unveil its proposed FY2006 budget. (I have heard rumors that NASA may try to move up the release of its budget to as early as Thursday to avoid linking it to O’Keefe’s planned departure, but that would be highly unusual: the whole FY06 federal budget proposal is scheduled for release Monday, and agencies usually wait until that day to offer more details about their budget.)

In any case, the proposal budget will apparently include a budget increase for the agency of as much as five percent, which would bring the agency’s overall budget to about $17 billion. O’Keefe, speaking at the Space Exploration Conference in Orlando on Monday, said that NASA will be a target in Congress because the agency is one of the few that will be getting a budget increase of any size in FY06, the Houston Chronicle reported. The Chronicle and Florida Today also reported that O’Keefe warned that industry will have to be united to help convince Congress to fully fund the agency. “There are lots and lots of folks outside of this community who view this as, ‘If you cannot get your act together, we have other things in mind to spend these very scarce resources on,'” O’Keefe said, according to the Chronicle.

The proposed restructuring of the House appropriations subcommittees, moving NASA from the to-be-abolished VA-HUD subcommittee to the Energy subcommittee, would help NASA if it goes through. “I think it will be an easier fight for the NASA dollar,” Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL), told the Orlando Sentinel.

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