Congress, NASA

Committee delays consideration of termination liability bill until next week

Despite declared bipartisan support for a bill that would relive NASA of the requirement to withhold funds on key projects as a hedge against payout if they’re cancelled, the House Science Committee delayed markup of that bill on Thursday until next week. As discussed here earlier this week, HR 3625 would require NASA not to withhold funds for termination liability for the Space Launch System (SLS), Orion, and International Space Station; the bill would also prevent NASA from canceling those programs unless a future law directed NASA to do so. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), whose district includes NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, introduced the bill earlier this week and collected 15 co-sponsors, both Republicans and Democrats.

Despite the support, the bill stumbled during the Science Committee’s markup session Thursday morning. Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) said in his opening statement that Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) had an amendment for the bill. He did not disclose what the amendment was about but it’s widely believed to try any include the James Webb Space Telescope in the “covered programs” of the bill, giving it the same protection from cancellation and maintaining termination liability reserves as the SLS, Orion, and ISS. However, when HR 3625 came up for consideration as the last of four bills of the day, it was clear that Brooks and Edwards were still discussing the proposed amendment, and after some delay Smith decided to recess the markup until 2 pm Tuesday to allow them to work out whatever differences they have about the proposed amendment. With House leadership planning to adjourn as soon as the end of next week, it was unlikely the bill would be considered by the full House before January even if the committee approved it yesterday.

6 comments to Committee delays consideration of termination liability bill until next week

  • I think you mean Mo Brooks, not Bill Posey. :-)

  • vulture4

    So who can we call to argue about this? Is there anyone on the committee that is opposed to pork?

    • vulture4 wrote:

      So who can we call to argue about this? Is there anyone on the committee that is opposed to pork?

      Dana Rohrabacher, but he’s a lone voice in the wilderness.

      Even if this clears the House, it remains to be seen how the Senate will react. As much as Bill Nelson and Ted Cruz are protecting SLS, this might be too much even for them.

      If it gets grafted into another bill, it could always be deleted on the chamber floor.

      This disgusting idea has a long way to go.

  • Mader Levap

    It is just me or someone there s**t bricks on mere thought of Falcon Heavy, appearing more real than ever with recent successful second flight of F9 v1.1?

    Falcon Heavy online = death of Senate Launch System aka monster porkrocket. It is simple like that.

    • Lars

      Indeed. I have argued for a while that a successful flight of Falcon Heavy will put SLS in a dire situation. Yes, it only has 40-70% of the SLS capacity to LEO (depending on SLS version) – but the price difference might be too much ignore.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    The story is interesting. It’s obvious that every Rep will be looking to put their constituents’ project on the ‘protected’ list. Ultimately, practically the entire NASA budget could end up protected in this manner, no matter how weird or trivial the line item just to get a majority to go to the voting stage. I think that the whole thing may yet die stillborn because it will become unimplementable.

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