The House of Representatives started deliberation Wednesday evening of the fiscal year 2015 Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill, HR 4660. So far, that debate has not led to any changes in provisions of the bill funding NASA; an amendment to cut NASA exploration spending by $10 million and transfer $8 million of it to the International Trade Administration failed on a voice vote. The House is expected to wrap up debate over the bill and approve it by late today.
As the full House started consideration of the bill, the White House released its Statement of Administration Policy (SAP), outlining the issues it has with the bill. For NASA, it highlighted two areas that received less funding in the bill than in the administration’s request: commercial crew and space technology. “The Administration appreciates the Committee’s support for NASA, but is disappointed the bill does not provide the full funding request for the Commercial Crew Program,” the SAP stated, warning that the lower funding level threatens the goal of beginning astronaut transportation to the ISS by 2017. “The Administration also encourages the Congress to support competition in the program, which is important to lowering risk and reducing prices in the long term,” it adds, referring to report language that calls for NASA to downselect to a single company in the next round of the program, later this year.
The SAP also briefly discusses the space technology program, which was cut by $85 million from the administration’s request. “Space Technology is important to reducing the cost and increasing the capability of NASA, other Government, and commercial space activities.”