While the Senate works the try and get its version of an INKSNA extension passed, the House has managed, very quietly, to do the same thing. Earlier today the House passed by a vote of 370-58 HR 2638, a bill originally intended to be a Homeland Security appropriations bill but has since been renamed the “Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009″. The bill provides funding to many government agencies, including NASA, at FY 2008 levels to March 6, 2009. Embedded within this continuing resolution, though, is this provision: “SEC. 125. Section 7(1)(B) of Public Law 106-178 (50 U.S.C. 1701 note) is amended by striking ‘January 1, 2012′ and inserting ‘July 1, 2016′.” What that cryptic language does is extend NASA’s existing waiver under INKSNA until July 2016.
One key difference between this extension and the one being considered in the Senate, as Space News notes, is that the house version would extend the waiver as is, allowing NASA to continue to purchase both Soyuz and Progress vehicles, while the Senate version would extend the waiver only for Soyuz purchases. For the record, Congressman Dave Weldon (R-FL), who has been leading the push against the INKSNA waiver extension, was one of the 58 who voted against the bill, although it’s not clear how big a role the extension provision played in his decision to vote against the bill.