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.”