Congress is returning from spring break this week, and at least in the Senate they’re wasting no time getting down to business. The Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee will be marking up its proposed appropriations bill for FY 2013 on Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 pm EDT. That appropriations bill includes NASA as well as NOAA and NSF. It will be the first chance to see what appropriators will do with the administration’s budget request; things to watch include funding for NASA’s planetary sciences program (cut by 20% in the administration’s request) and commercial crew funding (increased to nearly $830 million in the request).
The markup is taking place far earlier than last year, when the CJS subcommittee did not mark up its FY12 appropriations bill until September 14—the same day that NASA formally unveiled the design of the Space Launch System (SLS) at a press conference on the Senate side of Capitol Hill. In last month’s CJS subcommittee hearing on the NASA budget proposal, subcommittee chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) did mention the markup could come as soon as mid to late April.
As Marcia Smith notes, the timing of the markup is a little bit awkward for NASA and the DC space community, as many officials will be in Colorado Springs this week for the National Space Symposium. It’s the second year in a row, though, that Mikulski’s subcommittee has stepped on the symposium’s toes: last year the subcommittee held its hearing on NASA’s FY12 budget proposal the same week as the symposium.