Congress, NASA

A week until the new fiscal year—and the threat of a shutdown

A week from today is October 1, New Year’s Day for those who live on the federal government fiscal year calendar. And, for many of them, it could become an unintended, and unwanted, holiday. With no appropriations bills for fiscal year 2014 passed to date, Congress needs to approve a continuing resolution to keep the government funded at 2013 levels. However, the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate are at loggerheads over a provision in the House CR, passed on Friday, that would defund provisions of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), language that would not survive in the Senate. The Senate will debate its version of a CR this week and likely pass it by this weekend, POLITICO reports, without the Obamacare language but perhaps covering a shorter span: until November 15, instead of December 15 as in the House.

Unless the House changes course and agrees to the Senate version, or some other compromise between the two chambers is worked out, next Tuesday will arrive without a funding mechanism in place, precipitating a government “shutdown.” That term is in quotes because, as the AP reported last week, less than half of the 2.1 million federal government employees would be out of work if there is a shutdown. Essential government operations would continue, which would cover at least some NASA operations, for example. There certainly would be visible disruptions, though: an OMB memo last week about a potential shutdown states that government websites should remain operational only if “is necessary to avoid significant damage to the execution of authorized or excepted activities,” which suggests that many of the NASA websites could go offline or not be updated during a shutdown. It’s also unclear how a shutdown would affect NASA’s Asteroid Initiative Idea Synthesis Workshop, scheduled to begin Monday the 30th and run through Wednesday the 2nd; while run by NASA, it is being held at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, and not on the NASA JSC campus.

23 comments to A week until the new fiscal year—and the threat of a shutdown

  • Logan Gallaway

    Think its time for congressional earmarks to come back, at least when those were around, the side in power could get the other side to play ball, now we just have deadlock. Earmarks are kinda gross especially to the tune of 15.9 billion in 2010. What happens if another democratic president gets elected again, the republicans gonna turtle for another 4-8 years? Maybe if people would stop electing radicals things would get easier.

    • amightywind

      Problem is people elected radicals and we got things like Newspace and Obamacare. If urban population centers elect another democrat it is likely that the red-blooded American heartland will elect a GOP congress. The 2010 census assures that.

      • Coastal Ron

        amightywind said:

        Problem is people elected radicals and we got things like Newspace and Obamacare.

        Considering that the first big NewSpace encroachment into OldSpace territory happened because of Bush 43, this is a rather odd statement regarding NewSpace (Obamacare is OT).

        Does that mean you considered Bush 43 to be a NewSpace “radical”?

        Keep in mind also that Reagan promoted a new commercialization policy for NASA . Do you consider Reagan to be a NewSpace “radical”?

        You just don’t make any sense, especially since you say you supposedly are a modern “conservative”. You are more like the old time big-government, pork-spending “conservatives”.

        • amightywind

          GDub initiated Project Constellation. ISS servicing, and indeed the program, was an afterthought to be done by the cheapest means possible so that the US space program could concentrate on the moon mission. Obama made Newspace the centerpiece of his faux program.

      • mr. mark

        I would argue that NewSpace is not a President Obama idea. It was conceived many years before the current administration and COTS was put into place in the Bush years.

        • It was conceived during the Bush administration after Columbia. The Aldridge Commission was the one that came up with the competition idea. The Bush administration opened the C3PO office in November 2005, and Michael Griffin gave a speech in 2006 in which he said he was the one who approached Elon Musk, Bob Bigelow, and others. The first COTS contracts were issued in 2006 and 2007.

          That said, the commercial program wasn’t taken seriously until the Obama administration came in. Commercial crew was on paper under Bush but unfunded. The reason is that the Bush administration planned to deorbit the ISS in 2016 to pay for Constellation, ergo no need for commercial vehicles. The Obama administration saved the ISS by cancelling Constellation, and primed the pump for commercial cargo/crew to have delivery vehicles.


    The agency should be prepared for this. Back in the 90s when the government shutdown, the shuttle was literally on orbit– in the middle of a mission– and controllers weer on colsole and CSPAN telecast the cleaning crews routinely emptying wastebaskets in the control center.

  • Coastal Ron

    If the government shuts down, there are more important issues to be concerned about than NASA.

    While government shutdowns were rare in the past, the Tea Party Republican’s appear to want to make them a permanent part of their tactics for just about every issue they disagree with – both within their own party and outside.

    Talk about spoiled children…

  • E.P. Grondine

    Thanks for the heads-up on this one, Jeff.

    Since the attendees all have their travel plans and reservations made, the easiest thing to do would be to move the conference to the Harbor House Hotel. (I think that is its name, its the one with the marina in back.)

    The streaming for internet is already set up.

    • Hiram

      I guess you don’t understand that LPI isn’t a NASA facility. It’s a USRA facility. So a shutdown won’t determine the siting of this meeting. What it will affect is the level of participation of civil servants (both for organization and contributions), and it’ll do that even if the meeting is held out on the beach or a local bar.

  • James

    The tea party branch of the dying Republican Party weeping willow tree has their hack saws out and can be seen chopping down said weeping willow tree.


    NASA’s JWST project will need to eat valuable reserves to weather a shut down storm. If it goes for any length I am sure captain Mukulski will come to the rescue

    I am betting no shutdown as Willow Tree members will cross the isle to pass the Senate version out of their deep porker interest to survive

  • common sense

    I am inviting all those who oppose a baseless government shut-down to start a 21 hour blathering when polled by a candidate prior to any election. Important note: This works better in TX.

  • DocM

    The problem is this is a battle over principles, that Obama Care is a train wreck (so defined by a senior Democrat) that even many major unions are now learning is a boondoggle. It needs suspension & replacing, so says even many of its original supporters. It’s not often we see conservatives and unions on the same side – we should savor it.

    • Coastal Ron

      DocM said:

      The problem is this is a battle over principles, that Obama Care is…

      You’re on the wrong blog. This is SPACE Politics, not OBAMACARE Politics.

      • Hiram

        That being said, it’s useful to consider the penalties of preexisting conditions on prospects for insuring a future for U.S. human space flight. NASA has a whole lot of them that will cost a lot to fix, many of which would have been avoidable had the agency been weaned early of bad fiscal habits and adopted healthy policies. In this case, a “single-payer” system has gotten us in a pretty deep hole.

  • In this morning’s Florida Today:

    “Shutdown Means NASA Furloughs”

    And in related news:

    “Brevard residents get to pick from 6 ACA insurers; Health insurance exchanges also offer 109 plans, report says”

    “Brevard” meaning Brevard County, where Kennedy Space Center and its soon-to-be furloughed employees are located.

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>