Congress, NASA

Gordon confirms NASA authorization in the works

The chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee confirmed Tuesday that his committee will prepare a new NASA authorization bill this year, although its contents aren’t clear. “Congress believes that a strong and balanced civil space and aeronautics program of science, aeronautics, and human spaceflight and exploration is important and worthy of the nation’s support, and an important part of the nation’s innovation agenda,” committee chairman Bart Gordon said in a release announcing the committee’s agenda for this year. The release indicated the committee would move the legislation through the committee “this spring”; Nextgov reported that Gordon aims to have the committee approve the bill by May.

The committee’s ranking Republican, Ralph Hall, agreed that a NASA authorization bill is a priority in a separate release. “Our nation’s space agency is at a critical juncture and Congress must prioritize the funding necessary to achieve its missions. Keeping NASA on track for great achievements will be vital to maintaining America’s leadership role in space, as well as our competitive edge in innovation.:

That the committee plans to work on a bill isn’t a surprise: the legislation has been anticipated for months. Back in November Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords said that the committee would wait until at least January to draft an authorization bill as it waited on the White House to make a decision on space exploration policy. Yesterday’s announcements didn’t include any specifics on the bill’s provisions, perhaps in part since the White House hasn’t announced its decision on NASA’s future yet.

1 comment to Gordon confirms NASA authorization in the works

  • Doug Lassiter

    This is an ambitious schedule. First of all, as Gordon noted in his press release, reauthorization of America COMPETES is by far the most important job for the committee. It affects a number of different agencies and, much moreso than NASA, really drives the national innovation agenda. Secondly, and with respect to sentiments expressed at the House Science hearings with Norm Augustine, an FY11 budget that pulls the rug out from under Constellation is going to engender some serious head butting between the Administration and Congress, and that’s just going to jam up the authorization machinery. But Hall is exactly right. The nation’s space program is at a critical juncture, and FY11 NASA appropriations are going to be a real mess if not guided by a fresh auth bill that formalizes congressional perspectives.

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