Once upon a time, NASA administrator Charles Bolden wasn’t worried about the across-the-board budget cuts, known as sequestration, incorporated into the Budget Control Act of 2011. “I don’t talk about sequestration because I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Bolden said in a December 2011 speech, not long after to so-called “supercommittee” established by that 2011 bill failed to come up with an alternative deficit reduction package. At the time, he said he was optimistic that Congress and the White House would come up with another way to reduce deficits and avoid sequestration. “We are not planning for sequestration,” he said in that 2011 speech.
He’s planning for it now. Bolden told media during a visit to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville that sequestration would have major effects on NASA programs, in particular commercial crew. “The gap is going to get bigger,” the Huntsville Times quotes Bolden as saying, referring to the gap in NASA access to low Earth orbit that the agency hopes to close with commercial providers. NASA earlier this month identified commercial crew as one of the programs that would take the biggest hit from sequestration-induced spending cuts. “I’m just being very blunt about. Anybody who thinks this is no big deal – it’s a big deal.”
So what changed in the last 14 months? Bolden puts the blame on one end of Pennsylvanaa Avenue. “Sequestration was intended to never have to happen,” he said. “Well, guess what. The Congress wasn’t able to do what they were supposed to do, so we’re going to suffer.”