Congress, NASA

Hot about the NASA bill in Cleveland

One of the lesser-covered aspects of last week’s vote on the NASA authorization bill is the opposition to the bill by members of Ohio’s delegation. Ten of Ohio’s 18 representatives, concerned about the effect the legislation would have on NASA Glenn, voted against the bill, ranging from House minority leader John Boehner to Dennis Kucinich (D). Prior to the vote Kucinich and Steven LaTourette (R-OH) released a joint letter opposing the bill, claiming that the Senate version, among other issues, “could cause over 250 contractors to lose their jobs and up to 250 civil servants will not be used to their capacity.” LaTourette added, “You can’t be a supporter of NASA, manned space travel and NASA Glenn and support this Senate-authored bill.”

The House, of course, did approve the Senate bill, but that didn’t end the debate about the bill in the state. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), who did vote for the bill, was criticized by her Republican challenger, Rich Iott, for supporting the bill. “This particular bill would not only be the death knell for U.S. manned space travel, but would also hurt NASA Glenn Research Center and Plum Brook Station,” Iott claimed. Kaptur countered that, among other factors, she had received personal assurances from NASA administrator Charles Bolden that Glenn would not be adversely affected.

LaTourette, meanwhile, indicated that he’d continue to fight provisions in the authorization bill when an appropriations bill comes up for consideration after the November election. “I’m going to fight tooth and nail in the appropriations committee,” LaTourette, an appropriator, told Capitol News Connection this week. “I think it’s a huge mistake, I think it’s wrongheaded, and I’m disappointed we find ourselves here.” His comments suggested that, as in his earlier letter, he was opposed to the bill’s effective cancellation of the overall Constellation program: “We are the world leader in satellite technology and if these things break, what are we going to do? We’re going to call Boeing, the Chinese, the Russians?” (It’s not clear from the transcript what he was referring to with “if these things break”.)

One Ohio senator also expressed some disappointment with the outcome of the legislation. George Voinovich (R-OH) told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he let the bill pass the Senate in August “only after getting a commitment that language would be added later on that would protect Glenn’s role in the Human Space Exploration program”, adding that the agreement “would be voided if the House passed the Senate bill without further changes.” The House, of course, passed the exact same bill the Senate passed, which would have “voided” that agreement. It’s meaningless in the context of this bill, since the Senate will take no further action on it, but one wonders if it will pose a problem down the road for the space agency.

8 comments to Hot about the NASA bill in Cleveland

  • Republicans eat slop at the same trough as the Democrats and squeal just as loud if they can’t find a teat.

    –from an ol’ Nebraska pig-farmer many years ago…


  • red

    It’s pretty clear that states like Ohio are going to get the short end of the stick if they don’t combined forces with other states and interests. The SDHLV Congressional and lobbying interests are too well-placed and organized.

    Aeronautics, space technology, commercial space, planetary science, astrophysics, education, robotic HSF precursor, exploration technology, Earth observation, ISS, and heliophysics need to all join forces and back each other up if they don’t want to see a repeat of the raids of the Constellation years.

  • Dave Huntsman

    There has been a deliberate disinformation campaign in Ohio that has unfortunately succeeded all too well. During the week leading up to the bill, the members of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, LaTourette, and Kucinich were told (falsely):
    – that the bill would lead to the closure of Plumb Brook with its recently updated facilities; wrong.
    – that it would devastate research and development. Wrong. Research and development, including at GRC ,was devastated under the Bush Administration; the Obama Administration’s budget wanted to greatly increase and revitalize research and development, including at GRC; at the insistence of Republican senators from Utah and Alabama that was greatly decreased, but overall it was a step forward.
    – Kucinich was apparently told that creating commercial space industries was in fact a secret Republican plot to ‘outsource’ all of NASA so that it can be closed down. That’s dumb on the face of it, but contains at least one element of truth. NASA has been hampered by huge operational costs -including for running the space shuttle -and there will be no competition for routine space taxi service from next year onward. The Obama Administration decision to outsource such routine operations – and hopefully over time lower their costs – would not only create new competitive AMERICAN industries, but free up NASA to do what it should be doing for America and Earth: not the routine stuff, but instead focusing its efforts on going where no one has gone before.

    From a (selfish) GRC perspective: The Obama budget was (by far) the best; the Senate bill second best; and the House bill in the end something that continued NASA’s death spiral down into increasing irrelevance to Ohio, America, and Earth. LaTourette’s and Dennis’ staffers get an F here.

    Dave Huntsman
    Bay Village, Ohio

    The sad part is that LaTourette and Kucinich’s staffers didn’t do their job and fact-check what they were told, even though there are Ohioans who could have explained things factually to them.

  • C.R. Keith

    A buckeye is a useless nut.

  • Tom Billings

    Dave, I experienced an even stranger reception from the staff of one of Oregon’s Democrat Representatives. When a story in the Oregonian appeared about Representative David Wu and his opposition to the Obama Plan that had almost every point wrong, I called his office, and was put in touch with one of his DC staffers. The man kept attributing the results of the Augustine Committee to a cabal of New Space members and others in New Space forcing bad information on the rest of the committee members. He thought Jeff Greason had swayed the entire committee, and somehow pulled the wool over the eyes of people whose aerospace experience totaled more than a Century.

    In spite of my careful explanations and protests to his staffer, it was only 3 weeks till Wu came out with an Op-Ed in the Washington Post, once again stating facts that weren’t facts and opinions about how Constellation was so inspiring to school children whose inspiration was necessary to what his Innovation and Technology sub-committee was all about.

    There is a full press disinformation campaign afoot that makes what was done to the Space Exploration Initiative in 1990 look small potatoes by comparison. I have trouble with the sheer scale. To spread themselves so far that they reach people like Wu with the drivel I heard from that staffer, the resources must extend far beyond the efforts Max Hunter told me of long after Meuller tried to recruit him for the campaign to shut down Space Services Inc. Of course, after Meuller got himself appointed head of SSI by the owner, he didn’t need much more help. I still don’t understand how *that* happened, either.

    Are we seeing ULA-opposed groups inside Boeing, and LockMart funding and collaborating in this? I haven’t a clue. Can the managers at Kennedy, JSC, and Marshall put this together all on their own, having both Republicans and Democrats blind-sided with conspiracy theories? I know Shelby’s motives. I know Shelby’s Republican partisans want to stop the transformation to a more market-driven Space advance, just because it’s Obama’s plan. The reach into Democrats with no appreciable District interest like Wu, still seems out of scale to anything the turf warriors have done over the last 30 years, however.


    Tom Billings

  • Ferris Valyn

    Mr. Bilings

    A few points

    1. I think the real dis-information came mostly from ATK. There was some from other companies (including one of the big 2 – I point out that Boeing has gotten interested in Commercial Crew), but ATK was, IMHO, the big enemy

    2. Griffin & co had 4-5 years to convince people (including people on Congressional staff) that Constellation was the way to go.

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