The full House is currently debating HR 5672, the Science, State, Justice, and Commerce appropriations bill, although they have not yet debated any of the NASA provisions of the bill. However, the AP reports this morning that some members will attempt as early as today to cut exploration program funding from NASA and distribute it elsewhere within—or outside—NASA:
Democrats plan to try to cut spending for the moon-Mars initiative, which would return U.S. astronauts to the moon by 2020 and to Mars after that, and spend the money instead on other NASA programs or grants to local police at a time when violent crime rates are rising.
Opponents of the Mars mission says it’s too expensive and that unmanned space travel produces better science per dollar spent. Others say there are more pressing needs here on Earth.
“It’s a complete and total waste of money,” said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. “The manned shot to Mars is a pure boondoggle.”
The article notes that opponents of the program are emboldened because Tom DeLay, the most powerful supporter of the space agency, has retired from the House. However, even if this vote went on straight party lines (which seems unlikely since a number of Democrats support the program), it would still fail provided Republicans closed ranks in support of the space agency.