With the House not planning to take up its version of a NASA authorization bill before Wednesday, space advocates opposed to the legislation are continuing their efforts to win support for the Senate’s version. Commercial suborbital spaceflight supporters sent out emails on Sunday asking people to contact their representatives on Monday to seek their support for the Senate bill. The Space Frontier Foundation today released a video where members of the NewSpace community “support the need for a budget focused on innovation and new enterprise, not wasting money on failed projects.”
The House legislation, though, does have its supporters in Congress, who are speaking out about it. In a Houston Chronicle op-ed Saturday, Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) expressed support for the bill, calling it “a strong bipartisan bill that preserves and improves NASA’s human space flight program, while also helping support private sector research and development in human space flight.” By contrast, he argues, the Senate bill “falls short of the House measure in clearly defining the path – and equally important – ensuring the necessary future funding for NASA’s human space exploration efforts.” As members of Congress, he concludes, “we have a duty to clarify NASA’s future and not buck our responsibility to a reluctant president.” (How exactly the president is “reluctant” on this matter isn’t clear.)
Another House member, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), expressed his frustration with the lack of a vote on a bill in an article Sunday in the Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner. Bishop told the paper that while he likes the Senate version and “could live with” the earlier House bill, “Gordon’s bill is the one he really likes best.” Bishop blames the lack of a vote on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who Bishop says “is opposed to the NASA manned space program.” (It’s uncertain just how involved Pelosi has been in this process, as previous reports have only cited the involvement of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.) “If the Speaker will just schedule it, we will be in great shape,” Bishop said of a vote on the bill. “If not, we’re still not dead, but we’re on life support. This is probably the most important issue we’re fighting for right now.” One wonders how many of Bishop’s colleagues, of both parties, would agree that the NASA authorization bill is their “most important issue”.