The House Saturday afternoon approved by voice vote the Senate version of HR 6063, the NASA authorization bill for fiscal year 2009 that the Senate passed Thursday night.
The House Science and Technology Committee press release about the bill linked to above mentions a couple of key differences between this final version and the version the House overwhelmingly approved in June. Among them is a prohibition against NASA taking any steps before the end of April 2009 “that would preclude the President from being able to continue to fly the Space Shuttle past 2010 if he and Congress decided to do so.” This is similar to what John McCain and two other senators requested of the administration last month, with the difference being that they asked for a one-year delay, while this is closer to seven months.
Another difference: the final version does not contain a provision in the original House version that would have directed the Office of Science and Technology Policy to carry out a study of the effect of current export control policies on civil and commercial space efforts. Committee chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), in the committee statement, said he was “disappointed” the provision was dropped, but provided no details why it was excluded from the final version of the bill. “But I believe that there is likely to be movement on this important issue once the next Administration takes office,” he added.
The bill now goes to the White House for the president’s signature. Will he sign it? Recall back in June that the Office of Management and Budget issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) strongly critical of the House version of the bill, in particular citing clauses that made two “contingency” shuttle logistical flights part of the manifest (although, in fact, they pretty much already were), as well as an additional mission to fly the AMS instrument to the station. Those provisions remain in the final version of the bill; however, while the SAP stated that the administration “strongly opposed” the bill, it did not overtly threaten a veto.