NASA’s budget easily survived three attempts to either transfer funds from it or prevent it from being spent on its intended projects during floor debate on the HR 5672 appropriations bill Wednesday:
- Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), introduced an amendment that would transfer $783M from “various accounts” within NASA to NOAA. Gilchrest brought forward the amendment primarily, it seems, to draw attention to his concern that NOAA is not getting enough money, and withdrew the amendment after a brief floor debate. (He would go on to vote against two later amendments that sought to transfer or restrict NASA funding.)
- A widely-anticipated amendment was introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) to “prohibit funds from being used for a manned space mission to Mars.” Most of the debate that followed focused on the vague nature of the resolution: what exactly did the amendment cover? NASA isn’t actively working on a manned Mars mission, but since that is a distant goal of the overall exploration program, at least one member argued that it could prohibit NASA from supporting the entire exploration program. The amendment failed on a voice vote and a later roll call vote, 145-274.
- Wednesday evening Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Jim Ramstad (R-MN) introduced a resolution that would transfer $476 million from NASA’s Mars exploration program and use it to fund the Community Oriented Policing Services program, the AP reported. I missed the debate on this amendment, but it was defeated on a voice vote and on a roll call vote, 185-236.
One amendment that did pass was one proposed by Rep. Chris Chocola (R-IN) that would prohibit NASA from spending money on “travel policies and practices in contravention of Office of Management and Budget Circular No. A-126.” This was associated with NASA’s use of its aircraft to transport staff, a policy that was sharply criticized in a GAO report last year; NASA officials had said the agency was changing its policy on this. The amendment passed on a voice vote. Debate on the overall appropriations bill wasn’t completed last night, so it will continue, and likely conclude, today.
Update 1pm: The House did approve the spending bill, without (to the best of my knowledge) any additional changes that affected NASA.