House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. David Obey (D-WI) surprised many when he announced Wednesday that he would not run for reelection, retiring from the House after 21 terms. Obey said he was “bone tired” after a career in Congress and wanted to leave on a high note, namely, passage of health care reform earlier this year. Cynics noted that Obey was in danger of losing his chairmanship (should Republicans take control of the House in the midterm elections) or even his seat (he was facing his strongest Republican challenger in years). The relevance to NASA is that Obey has been skeptical about funding human spaceflight; in 2006 he claimed that some members of Congress suffered from a case of “Mars fever” as it debated a spending bill that included NASA.
Last week businesspeople and others from the Huntsville area came to Washington to lobby Congress about Constellation; now, it’s Colorado’s turn. A 100-person delegation from Colorado will be in Washington next week to lobby for the state’s priorities, the Denver Post reported, including preserving the Orion spacecraft.
In an editorial today, the Houston Chronicle endorses efforts by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) for “reviving NASA”. The editorial is less about the specifics of Hutchison’s plan, including study of a shuttle extension, but the low-key, bipartisan approach she’s taken. Hutchison, the editorial states, has been “working quietly and patiently with Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and from all parts of the country, to get things done for Texas.”