Space News reports in its print edition this week that Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) is holding up the release of “most if not all” of the $1 billion allocated to NASA in the stimulus bill approved earlier this year. The problem is that NASA is planning to spend $150 million of the $400 million appropriated to exploration for ISS commercial resupply activity, including early work to support commercial crew missions to the station. As you may recall, Shelby expressed his opposition to such spending in a hearing last month, saying that “manned spaceflight is something that is still in the realm of government” and that companies like SpaceX that have proposed such flights “cannot substitute for the painful truth of failed performance at present.”
According to the article (not available online to the best of my knowledge) several congressional sources confirmed Shelby’s hold on the funding, although his office had not provided any comment to the publication prior to going to press. (While not explicitly stated in the article, Shelby is apparently holding up approval of the spending plan that NASA was required to submit to Congress within 60 days of the bill’s enactment.) According to the article “meetings were under way at press time to resolve the standoff”.