Senate gears up for NASA budget fight

The commerce, justice, and science subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee approved Tuesday legislation that would give NASA $16.757 billion for NASA in FY2007, according to a Space News report (subscription required). (The committee press release about the bill rounded that figure up to $16.8 billion.) That’s $35 million less than what the administration requested; the actual breakout of funding isn’t available, although shuttle, station, and key exploration programs are reportedly fully funded.

That vote, though, is only the prelude to an effort in a full committee hearing Thursday where Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the ranking member of the CJS subcommittee, is expected to introduce a resolution calling for an extra $1 billion for NASA in FY07. Mikulski and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison had previously sought $2 billion for FY07, but instead will ask for $1 billion in extra funding in FY07 and see if the administration will add $1 billion to its FY08 budget proposal; if not, the senators plan to make a similar amendment in next year’s budget cycle. The extra money would be designated an “emergency” to get around budget caps.

There is some lobbying going on for this funding: some professional organizations, like the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology (ASGSB), are asking their members to contact key senators and ask them to support Mikulski’s amendment. The Planetary Society has a similar request of its members, although their request has not been updated to reflect the July 13 hearing date of the full committee.

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