Now that the fiscal year 2014 appropriations bill is all but done, and a two-year budget deal in place as well, the House Science Committee is planning to revisit a controversial NASA authorization bill. Appearing on a public policy panel at the 22rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society last week outside Washington, Chris Shank, policy director of the committee, said the bipartisan budget deal reached last month is key to moving ahead on the authorization bill. “That budget agreement sets a framework, an environment, which we can now operate under,” he said, adding they would be “pushing forward” later this month and next month on the authorization bill.
Speaking at a Space Transportation Association reception on Capitol Hill last night, committee chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) confirmed that desire to restart work on the authorization bill, which has been stalled since the bill passed the committee on a party-line vote in July. “I don’t have any explanation why it was partisan. It should not have been,” he said of the July committee vote. “We get a second shot at that now that we’ve solved the sequestration-level funding, so I am hoping we can come up with a more bipartisan bill.”