That’s the assessment of a front page article in Monday’s Washington Post, which notes that some Republicans are starting to become at least mildly concerned about alleged improprieties (or at least the appearance of impropriety, which can be just as damning) by the House majority leader. One Republican political consultant said the situation was “negatively fluid” for DeLay; a Brookings Institution fellow warned that DeLay could be in “serious political peril” down the road.
This is, of course, a concern for NASA supporters because it was DeLay’s staunch support for the agency—including holding up an omnibus appropriations bill at the last minute—that ensured that NASA got its full funding for FY05, at the expense of other agencies. If DeLay does not emerge from this web of intrigue unscathed, it could make it harder for him to make a similar stand in this or future years; it could also encourage appropriators already scrounging for funding in a tight budget to raid NASA. While DeLay’s support proved invaluable for NASA last year, this is all the more reason the agency and its backers need to expand its base of Congressional support now and for the future if the exploration program is to remain on track. After all, even if DeLay ends up fully vindicated, at some point in the future he won’t be House majority leader, and his replacement may not be so fond of NASA.