The final recorded vote for S.3729 in the House last night is available. There aren’t too many surprises in who voted for or against the bill; in addition to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who spoke out against the bill on the House floor, some Ohio representatives, including Dennis Kucinich (D) and Steven LaTourette (R), who had been lobbying against the bill, voted no. Several key appropriators, including the chair and ranking member of the full appropriations committee, Reps. David Obey (D-WI) and Jerry Lewis (R-CA), voted in favor of the bill. One interesting no vote: House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who is in line to become Speaker next year should Republicans win control of the House in November’s elections.
Some of those who did vote for the bill didn’t sound that enthusiastic about it. “While I am not completely satisfied with the Senate bill, I am very pleased it passed,” Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), ranking member of the House Science and Technology Committee, said in a statement. “While I preferred the compromise language offered by Chairman [Bart] Gordon, I am pleased that we were at least able to pass a bill.” Gordon, meanwhile, reiterated in his own statement plans to seek changes when appropriators take up their spending bills after the November elections, calling the passage of S.3729 “only one more step in crafting a sustainable, affordable, and productive future path for NASA.”
Senate leaders, understandably, were a little more effusive in their reactions. “I congratulate my House colleagues for taking a big step forward for America’s space program,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said in a statement. “It’s been a long, rigorous process – but I believe we’ve reached a sensible center.” The committee’s ranking member, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, “lauded” the House, in particular Houston-area representatives, in her own statement. “I am extremely pleased that the Houston delegation… pulled together to gain approval of the Congressional initiative to preserve America’s future in space and protect our proud heritage of exploration.”
One of the companies most affected by the bill, ATK, issued a statement early Thursday saying that it was “encouraged” by the bill’s passage. “The passage of S.3729 provides ATK the opportunity to support NASA on the development of a heavy-lift vehicle for human space flight that will utilize proven advanced solid rocket motor propulsion capabilities,” the company stated. ATK, of course, loses the Ares 1 launch vehicle that won’t be continued under the new plan, but the relatively prescriptive language in the Senate bill and accompanying report on HLV design (a point of criticism by Giffords in her floor speech) would appear to give the company a consolation prize.
Congress also got a message of thanks from NASA administrator Charles Bolden. “We are grateful that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 received strong support in the House after its clearance in the Senate, and can now be sent on to the President for his signature,” Bolden said. “Passage of this bill represents an important step forward towards helping us achieve the key goals set by the President.”