With just over a week before the current continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government is set to expire, it appears a plan is taking shape to pass a final FY13 appropriations bill this week. Monday evening the Senate approved a cloture motion for its version of HR 933, cutting off debate and setting the stage for a vote on the bill tomorrow. While the House passed its version of the bill earlier this month, POLITICO reports that House appropriators may take the Senate version to the House floor on Thursday for passage, although with the possibility of a few last-minute tweaks in a few programs. The current CR expires March 27, but Congress is planning to go on Passover and Easter break at the end of this week.
If Congress does pass the Senate version of the bill, it’s not necessarily good news for NASA. The Senate version offers less money for NASA overall once a 1.877% rescission and 5% sequestration cuts take effect, even though it starts with more money than the House bill. The Senate version, though, does structure the funding differently than the House bill, which was a CR with several “anomalies” adjusting funding for exploration and a few other accounts.
While neither the House nor the Senate bills do anything about budget sequestration, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was campaigning to cancel sequestration in an appearance earlier Monday at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “NASA Goddard is home to leaders in Maryland’s space and innovation economies, making discoveries that not only win Nobel Prizes, but create new products and jobs,” she said in a statement, adding that sequestration will have “a devastating impact on science, innovation and research at Goddard.”