Hutchison announces her plans to step down

It had been widely assumed for some time that Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) would resign from the Senate later this year to devote herself full-time to running against incumbent Gov. Rick Perry in the Texas GOP gubernatorial primary next year. Yesterday Hutchison confirmed those plans, saying that she would step down in the “October, November” timeframe, several months before the March 2010 primary. Her resignation will mean the loss of one of the stauncher NASA advocates in the Senate, where, among other things, she worked with Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) in recent years to add an additional $1 billion to NASA’s budget. She also serves as the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has oversight of NASA.

9 comments to Hutchison announces her plans to step down

  • Rooster

    good luck Senator Hutchinson! better her than that delta bravo Rick Perry.

    completely unrelated question: the shuttle just left ISS to head back to Earth, leaving six astronauts on board. it’s my understanding that there is always one Soyuz docked to the ISS as a lifeboat in case of emergency. but they can only take three. in an emergency, how does NASA, ESA, and the Russian decide who stays behind?

  • G Clark

    There’s always enough Soyuz docked to take everybody out. Right now Soyuz’ TMA-14 & -15 are docked (one at Pirs, the other at Zarya).

  • Doug Lassiter

    Why, if Rick Perry stays as Texas governor, he might just carry out his threat of getting Texas to secede from the union. I suppose he could then then develop a Texas space program which, at least in the beginning, might involve suborbital flights to explore mysterious venues. Like Oklahoma. He’d probably assign a creationist as the TASA administrator, which I suppose could throw the sustainability issue for human space exploration to a higher authority.

    KBH has been a strong supporter of NASA for Texas, and an effective advocate of space exploration for the nation. Perhaps just in deference to her leadership on this, John Cornyn has never seemed to have any clue about at least civil space. It would be interesting to understand how KBH might continue this support (if not through federal appropriations) as Governor. Certainly Bush and Perry made no real effort in this regard.

  • Major Tom

    The most that Hutchison (or Mikulski) can honestly claim that they added to NASA’s budget was $400 million in the Recovery Act, not $1 billion. The House version of the bill already provided $600 million for NASA before the Senate got involved. And given their repeated inability over multiple years to even get a floor vote on a billion dollar-plus “Mikulski miracle” budget increase for NASA, it’s highly doubtful they would have even gotten that much without the opportunity provided by the economic crisis and the Recovery Act.

    “how does NASA, ESA, and the Russian decide who stays behind”

    They don’t. When the ISS is at six crew, there are two Soyuzes docked to the ISS.

    Once upon a time, NASA argued that there was a need for two vehicles that could independently return six crew members each, in case most or all of the crew was trapped on one side of the ISS during a fire or similar egress-blocking emergency. But that desirement/requirement quickly faded when NASA revealed a $5 billion ISS overrun at the beginning of the Bush I Administration, and the CRV project to satisfy that desirement/requirement was terminated to cover part of the overruns.


  • CharlesTheSpaceGuy

    A good question is: why would Kay Bailey want to quit a powerful and influential position like Senator, to take a largely ceremonial position as Governor of Texas? Given that she probably does not want to run for President, she must be looking for a nice pre-retirement job back close to home.

  • Doug Lassiter

    It is a good question.

    But the Texas governorship is actually a strong-governor position. Certainly not “ceremonial”. Also, consider that while the Texas budget is about 6% of the federal budget, as Senator, she carries 1% of the influence on the latter. Texas is one of the few states with a budget surplus, so a Texas leader would be in a position to spend money, rather than make difficult cuts. The office of the Governor is much larger than that of the office of a Senator, so she would have more office manpower and resources available to carry out her agenda. Now, sure, with regard to space exploration, she’d be giving up all manner of influence, but that’s hardly relevant in the greater scheme of political accomplishment.

  • Blue

    “But the Texas governorship is actually a strong-governor position. Certainly not “ceremonial”. ”

    That’s simply not true–both the Lt. Governor and Speaker of the House have far more power in the Texas system. Texas’ governor has few formal powers. The budget, for example, is written completely by the Legislature. The Gov. can line item veto portions of it but the passed law is constructed to prevent him from mucking about too much (e.g., universities get a single appropriation so that he has to kill ALL of their funding to stop any particular project). He has very, very little say in how money is actually expended.

    The main power held by the Gov–and one Perry has used quite effectively–is the ability to control the executive branch through the appoinment of boards and directors. Once upon a time most of those folks were allies of long time Lt. Gov. Bullock. Perry has made sure that appointees in his administration follow his lead pretty closely. Since Texas only has a part time Legislature this means he has a fair amount of influence over policy implementation.

    As far as staff goes, the Governor of Texas has some folks but his staff is dwarfed by the staff of the Lege…to say nothing of independent officials like the Comptroller who also get to muck about with things!

    So why does Kay want to be Gov? Legacy, mainly, I think. She does a turn or two and gets her name writ large in history…and if things spin the right way maybe ends up on a national ticket.

  • Ron Carlson

    It is too bad that the Congress in Washington’s District of Crooks is not part time, too.

    Maybe then they wouldn’t have as much time to sit around thinking of foolish ways to spend TRILLIONS of dollars of OUR money.

  • Doug Lassiter

    The question of the strength of the Texas governorship was actually addressed in a nice article in Slate a decade ago. See

    True, constitutionally, the Lt. Governor has some strong powers but, at least with regard to a former TX governor …

    “The Texas governor can veto bills and make line-item vetoes on appropriations bills. He can also call special legislative sessions, something Bush has never done. But a governor’s clout doesn’t rest only in institutional trappings. Despite the limitations of his office, Bush is still the most powerful politician in Texas. Personal charisma, a hefty electoral mandate, and the cooperation of the legislature can augment the power of any governor. Bush has all three, and he has used them to persuade the legislature to enact incremental portions of his agenda on issues such as education, welfare, and taxes. Add the likelihood of a major-party presidential nomination to the list, and you have a governor who wields a sizable amount of power, even if it can’t be found in the state constitution.”

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