Congress has been on recess this week, but there still have been a couple of developments this week involving members who have an interest in NASA programs and policy.
On Tuesday, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) announced that he plans to run for governor of Louisiana, which means he could leave the Senate before his current term expires in 2016. Vitter, who once served as the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee’s space subcommittee, has taken a particular interest in NASA’s use of the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Last week, he visited Michoud with NASA administrator Charles Bolden to see work being done there on the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft. However, last fall he put a hold on the nomination of NASA chief financial officer Beth Robinson to become undersecretary at the Department of Energy, claiming that “NASA has been stalling on a job creating project at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans for no apparent reason.” Robinson’s nomination is still pending.
Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), the congressman whose district includes the Johnson Space Center, had already announced that he would not run for reelection in 2014 to instead challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in the Republican primary for Cornyn’s Senate seat. Now, the AP reports, Stockman has effectively gone missing, skipping a string of House votes before this week’s recess and making “virtually no public appearances” in his long-shot Senate campaign. Stockman, who serves on the House Science Committee and its space subcommittee, has been active on social media, though, despite not making public appearances.