Congress, NASA

Nelson to introduce Senate version of NASA authorization bill today

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), chairman of the space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, announced Wednesday that he will be formally introducing later in the day the Senate’s version of a NASA authorization bill that will differ sharply from the House version.

Nelson, speaking at the luncheon of the Future Space 2013 conference in Washington on Wednesday (delayed slightly, he said, because he showed up to the wrong building on Capitol Hill), said he and Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-WV), chairman of the full committee, would be filing a NASA authorization bill today. The bill would authorize $18.1 billion for NASA in fiscal year 2014. “You will see a robust approach, a balanced approach,” he said of the bill, without going into much detail about its contents, “providing the resources for the SLS, for Orion, likewise for commercial crew, likewise for science and planetary science.”

The authorization bill “has a great deal of symmetry” with the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill that a Senate appropriations subcommittee approved yesterday and which the full committee is scheduled to take up tomorrow. It stands in sharp contrast, though, to House legislation, where bills currently under consideration authorize NASA at $16.865 billion and appropriate $16.598 billion for fiscal year 2014. Those funding levels, he said, “would absolutely be lethal for NASA. You couldn’t have the balanced approach.”

2 comments to Nelson to introduce Senate version of NASA authorization bill today

  • Dark Blue Nine

    Better late than never, I suppose…

  • MECO

    I think there are basically two fundamental criteria for whether any of these bills are “good”. Basically, looking at each bill: is it responsible and is it realistic? To elaborate, 1) Responsible: Do the resources come close to matching the mandate? Putting aside for the moment whether the priorities reflect what you would like to see. 2) Realistic: Are the resources realistically achievable given the current fiscal climate? Are the goals/policies/programs technically realistic?

    I’d say none of the bills so far meet both of these criteria. One could probably argue that NASA’s request doesn’t even meet these criteria. Hopefully, the stark difference between the bills will spur a discussion over what is realistically achievable and what is responsible for the long-term success of the civilian space program. At least let’s hope so.

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