That’s the argument made in an article yesterday in the Orlando Sentinel, which makes the case that Lampson’s fight to raise NASA’s budget will help keep jobs at KSC. Lampson, the article notes, wants an extra $3 billion for NASA’s budget to reduce the Shuttle-Constellation gap. To aid those efforts, he organized a meeting between NASA administrator Mike Griffin and a group of fiscally conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats, and also organized a Congressional trip to last month’s shuttle launch.
However, those efforts hold a slim chance of success. The article hints that House Democratic leaders might be willing to increase NASA’s budget to help Lampson in a tough reelection battle in his Texas district (which includes JSC); the question is, is his seat worth $3 billion—or $1 billion or less—to party leaders? Recall last fall that there was a push to get the House to sign onto the $1-billion “Mikulski Miracle” as a way to help Lampson, but that effort failed. And, as the article notes, there may be other ways to help Lampson without spending billions, such as simply asking fellow Democrats who are critics of the agency or human spaceflight to keep quiet this year. One fellow Democrat who was on the shuttle launch junket last month was unconvinced of the need to spend billions to close the gap. “Of course they [NASA] told us that they weren’t getting enough money,” Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) told the Sentinel, saying that NASA should focus instead on “efforts that could bear the most fruit”, like robotic spaceflight.
One additional tidbit at the end of the article: Lampson said that if he does win reelection this fall, he hopes to become chair of the space subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee. That position is currently held by Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO), who is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Wayne Allard.