Last week a group of senators led by Sen. George LeMieux (R-FL) introduced an amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill defending Constellation. That amendment reiterated an earlier provision in the FY2010 appropriations bill preventing NASA from terminating any part of Constellation and related measures. That amendment, though, was never taken up, and the FAA legislation was passed without it.
That, though, has not deterred LeMieux and his colleagues. On Thursday he introduced S. 3180, a bill that contains the same provisions as his earlier amendment, including requiring the GAO to perform an assessment of Constellation and providing “assurance” that the remaining payloads on the shuttle manifest will be launched. It also waives provisions of the Anti-Deficiency Act so that they can’t “be utilized as a basis for the termination or elimination” of any part of Constellation. The bill has six cosponsors, similar to that his earlier amendment but with one key difference: Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) is replaced by Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). That could be important as the bill has been referred to the Senate Commerce Committee, where Sen. Hutchison is the ranking member.