Congress

NASA in the budget crosshairs?

The Washington Post reports today that a deal on an omnibus domestic spending bill has fallen through after Congressman David Obey, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, complained that the Republicans were “bargaining in bad faith” on the proposal. The Democrats had proposed a $520 billion spending bill that would include additional domestic spending that the Democrats want but would have also included additional money for Afghanistan and Iraq that the White House has been pressing. The proposal triggered a strong response from OMB director Jim Nussle, who said that if Congress passed such a bill, “the President would veto it”, causing Obey to announce the deal was off.

Obey said he would instead press for a bill that heeded the administration’s spending limits by cutting out earmarks, Iraq and Afghanistan funding, and “most of the Bush administration’s top priorities”. And what might those priorities be, the Post asks? “One possibility would be funding for abstinence education. Other targets could be nuclear weapons research and development in the Energy Department, NASA programs and high-technology border security efforts that have come under criticism for being wasteful and ineffective, said Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense.” How much, if anything, Obey would cut from NASA isn’t mentioned in the article.

In any case, don’t expect a resolution soon. “If anybody thinks we can get out of here this week, they’re smoking something illegal,” Obey said.

23 comments to NASA in the budget crosshairs?

  • Charles in Houston

    Fellow Budget Mavens -

    Do you wonder if we could delay technologically suspect systems that also alarm other countries? The missile defense system that we are deploying comes to mind. It has performed poorly in tests, it costs enormous amounts of money, it provides very little bang for the buck.

    We talk about the needs we have, and yet we find lots of money to throw at a system that does not have a purpose.

    Charles

  • Paul D.

    It has performed poorly in tests

    It is my understanding that the missile defense systems being tested now have actually done fairly well in tests, unless you have unreasonably high expectations.

  • Chance

    The Missile defense agency claims there have been 33 sucessful intercept tests since 2001. However, the webpage doesn’t say the total number of tests, nor does it address claims that many of these tests were “rigged” with GPS locators in the target vehicles.

    1. http://www.mda.mil/mdalink/pdf/07news0051.pdf
    2. http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=000A45A2-E044-115D-A04483414B7F0000&page=1
    3. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/01/12/national/main666433.shtml
    4. http://archive.salon.com/news/col/cona/2001/07/31/test/

    Personally I’m a bit skeptical that the missile defense program is worth the cost.

  • Paul D.

    nor does it address claims that many of these tests were “rigged” with GPS locators in the target vehicles.

    To actually, you know, provide data that can be used to analyze the results of the tests? How dastardly of them! Obviously all a conspiracy to make you have to change your mind. Fiendish.

  • Nemo

    nor does it address claims that many of these tests were “rigged” with GPS locators in the target vehicles.

    They weren’t “rigged”; they were using GPS as a “perfect” navigation sensor because they were testing guidance, and the operational navigation sensor (X-band radar) hadn’t been built yet.

    You *do* understand the importance of testing one component at a time, right? And that there’s a difference between navigation and guidance, right?

  • Funny, how the Administration has suddenly caught the “balanced budget” religion. Too bad they didn’t discover this six years ago.

    The worst thing (for us) is that what the Democrats are offering actually looks like it should be a pretty good deal from the Administration’s point of view. As I understand it, they know how weak their hand is, and they’re asking for a far smaller increase in their priorities in return for meeting the Administration’s far larger increase for theirs (though I would not be the only one getting lost in the details). If so, the Administration should declare victory, sign the bill, and spend the money on all their supposed priorities including the VSE. Apparently, they’d rather score political points.

    – Donald

  • MarkWhittington

    I have to note that there’s no indication of how Obey’s threat is being recieved either by the House rank and file or in the Senate. I suspect that anything like Obey is discussing would be vetoed in any case.

  • My 2 bit guess is that the final signed bill will be significantly smaller and include most requested Iraq/Afghanistan funding. But the White House will have to sacrifice most of their lower priorities, probably including Constellation funding, to get that.

    The other option that’s always a possibility is a breakdown in the budget process, resulting in another long CR that pushes Ares I/Orion’s schedule to the right again.

    FWIW…

  • anonymous – I suspect that you’ll see the second, if things are going in the direction I think they are. This is much more about the issue of what compromise and bipartisanism is, rather than the space budget.

  • MarkWhittington

    Anonymous’s first is very unlikely. Cionstellation is a bipartisan priority, not purely Republican. I agree that option two is a distinct possibility, unless the Administration digs in and forces a government shutdown.

  • “Anonymous’s first is very unlikely. Cionstellation is a bipartisan priority, not purely Republican.”

    It’s a bipartisan non-priority. If it was a bipartisan, or Democratic, priority, Constellation funding would have been boosted, instead of flatlined, in last year’s continuing resolution after the Democrats took control. Just as there were many other priorities ahead of Constellation in that bill, there will be many other priorities ahead of Constellation in this bill.

  • Christine

    It is my understanding that the missile defense systems being tested now have actually done fairly well in tests, unless you have unreasonably high expectations.

    My strong hunch is that the kinetic interceptors are a little more kinetic than the START treaty allows, and that the “near miss” failures were more successful than is being publicly acknowledged.

  • Chance

    “They weren’t “rigged”; they were using GPS as a “perfect” navigation sensor because they were testing guidance, and the operational navigation sensor (X-band radar) hadn’t been built yet.
    You *do* understand the importance of testing one component at a time, right? And that there’s a difference between navigation and guidance, right?”

    Actually, no, I don’t know the differance, though I’m sure a quick google search would enlighten me. However, I wager the vast majority of US citizens don’t know the differance either. If you are just testing a component, that should be made clear, especially when the use of this navigational aid could give the appearance of rigging (even if its use is perfectly justifiable). The only reason I can think for downplaying this is to sell the system as a whole. Understandable, but misleading.

    Of course, if a “rouge nation” wanted to attack us with nuclear weapons, I wonder if a missile is really the way to go. Why not bring one into a port, or sneak it across the border? Not only do you hit your target, but you have plausible deniability.

    So if it won’t stop a determined rogue state, why are we spending billions on it?

  • Jeff Foust

    A reminder that this is a not a forum for missile defense issues. Thanks for your cooperation.

  • reader

    Space.com reports that LRO is on the verge of starting to slip. Anyone surprised?

  • D. Messier

    The ‘pub party candidates apparently called for deep cuts in federal spending today, with Mayor 9-11 promising a 15 percent across-the-board cut. So….NASA is probably screwed if they maintain control of the WH. Be difficult to make deep cuts in the budget and then add money for some moon landing program that will be at least a decade away and only has direct benefits to the white-collar workforce that’s building it.

  • Chance

    Jeff, I will of course respect your blog and your rules, but it is a subject that encompasses both space and politics.

  • Jeff, I will of course respect your blog and your rules, but it is a subject that encompasses both space and politics.

    It has absolutely nothing to do with this post.

  • Dennis Wingo

    Space.com reports that LRO is on the verge of starting to slip. Anyone surprised?

    Last years budget had an extra $45m for the delays last year. I hear that 2009 is the launch date for a while now.

  • Chance

    In that case rand, a very large numberof comments on this site should be deleted.

  • In that case rand, a very large numberof comments on this site should be deleted.

    Yes.

    What’s your point? That’s no excuse for adding more that should be.

  • Chance20_m

    You do see the irony of adding another unrelated comment when your complaint is about unrelated comments don’t you?

  • No irony. It was a metacomment (a comment about comments). ;-)

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>