The House released last night its draft of an omnibus spending bill that covers most federal agencies, excluding those, like NASA, included in last month’s “minibus” appropriations bill. One minor note of interest: Division B of the omnibus, which covers energy and water, does not call out any funding for the Department of Energy to restart plutonium-238 production, despite a lobbying push by astronomers last week.
Accompanying the omnibus is a disaster relief spending bill, which seeks to offset its $8.1 billion cost through a rescission of FY12 spending for non-defense discretionary spending. That across-the-board cut of 1.83 percent implies, for NASA, a cut of $325 million from its $17.8 billion topline for 2012.
Meanwhile, the 2012 presidential campaign trail has been quiet on the topic of lunar colonies and space mirrors the last few days, although we’ll have to see if it comes up again at the next debate tonight in Sioux City, Iowa. One person coming to the defense of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is Patrick Caldwell, who offers a bit of an odd compliment in The American Prospect: “Gingrich indulges a number of fantasy ideas, but he gets it right for space exploration,” he writes. He cites comments made at the International Space Development Conference in May by Jeff Greason and Paul Spudis about the importance of space exploration and settlement. “[I]t will take a direct vision to reach that end, and Gingrich is far ahead of his Republican opponents—as well as the incumbent president—in articulating those ideas,” Caldwell argues.