Congress is back from spring break, and that means a busy week in both the House and Senate as three different committees hold hearings and markup legislation involving both NASA policy and its fiscal year 2015 appropriations.
On Tuesday afternoon, the full House Science Committee will mark up HR 4412, the updated NASA authorization bill. The committee’s space subcommittee approved an amended version of the bill on April 9, authorizing only the already-approved fiscal year 2014 appropriations,but also including a number of policy provisions, including a requirement for NASA to provide a detailed exploration roadmap for sending humans to Mars. The markup, ironically, coincides with an “Exploration Forum” NASA is holding Tuesday afternoon at NASA Headquarters to “showcase NASA’s human exploration path to Mars.”
Wednesday morning, the House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) subcommittee will mark up its proposed fiscal year 2015 appropriations bill, which funds NASA among other agencies. The draft bill hasn’t been released yet, but when it does it will provide some insights into Congressional thinking on issues like NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission, commercial crew, and SOFIA and planetary science mission funding, all topics that came up in the subcommittee’s April 8 hearing on the NASA budget.
A day later, the Senate Appropriations Committee’s CJS subcommittee will hold a hearing on the NASA budget, with NASA administrator Charles Bolden the sole scheduled witness. Earlier this month, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who chairs both the CJS subcommittee as well as the full committee, said she would seek to increase NASA’s proposed FY15 budget of $17.46 billion to at least the $17.65 billion finally appropriated for FY14.