In a press release Thursday, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), chair of the appropriations subcommittee whose jurisdiction includes NASA, confirms that she would again seek a billion-dollar increase in NASA’s budget above the $17.8-billion budget her subcommittee approved on Wednesday (and which the full appropriations committee also apparently approved Thursday, although there’s no announcement about it on the committee web site.) Mikulski made a similar statement earlier this year, when her subcommittee first held hearings on NASA appropriations. “I am committed to restoring NASA’s budget to ensure the continued safety of our astronauts, and to supporting the critical programs that are the hallmarks of their success,” she said in her statement.
This will be the third time she has sought to bypass the regular appropriations process by offering an amendment for additional funding to be considered by the full Senate, an effort known as the “Mikulski Miracle”. Two years ago the Senate never took up the appropriations bill, and NASA and other agencies ended up with a year-long continuing resolution. Last year the Senate did approve the amendment, but the extra billion was lost in conference committee. Will the third time be the charm?
As for the regular appropriations bill itself, the details have not been released yet. Mikulski’s statement did include a few top-level details:
The bill fully funds the President’s budget request for Space Shuttle operations ($3 billion) and Space Station operations ($2 billion). The bill also provides $2.9 billion for development of the next generation Crew Launch Vehicle and Crew Exploration Vehicle. The bill provides $4.5 billion for NASA’s science programs and $500 million for aeronautics research.