Congress, NASA

House gearing up for CR to last until December

With no sign of progress on appropriations bills stalled in the Senate, the House is making plans to pass a “clean” continuing resolution that will keep the government running at least into December, a top House member said this week.

In an interview with the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call Wednesday in Philadelphia, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, said that he expected the House to take up a CR when it reconvenes in early September that will fund the government “until Dec. 11 is what we’re thinking.” That CR will be a “clean” one in the sense that it will not include any controversial policy provisions that could spark opposition from Democrats.

“We will pass a clean [continuing resolution], and if for some reason the Democrats don’t take that, then they will clearly have shut the government down,” Ryan told Roll Call.

A CR appeared likely when Congress recessed at the end of July without any sign of progress on several key appropriations bills, including the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) one that funds NASA and NOAA, in the Senate. The House passed its CJS appropriations bill at the end of May, but debate on the Senate’s version ground to a halt on the Senate floor in mid-June over non-NASA provisions of the bill. The Senate has yet to pass any of its appropriation bills for fiscal year 2015.

Ryan’s comments were intended to respond to claims that Republicans were planning to try and insert policy provisions into a CR that could lead to another government shutdown like the one last October. Ryan, in a new book due out next week (the tour for which brought him to Philadelphia), admitted the shutdown was a “suicide mission” for House Republicans. He added that, along with a CR, the House would support a short-term reauthorization of the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank through the end of the calendar year to allow more time to work out a long-term solution. Many conservatives have opposed any long-term reauthorization of Ex-Im, which, among other activities, has supported commercial satellite and launch sales.

39 comments to House gearing up for CR to last until December

  • E.P. Grondine

    “he expected the House to take up a CR when it reconvenes in early September that will fund the government “until Dec. 11 is what we’re thinking.” That CR will be a “clean” one in the sense that it will not include any controversial policy provisions that could spark opposition from Democrats.”

    If i am reading this correctly, Rep. Ryan expects either
    A) the Republicans to take control of both Houses and pass
    what they like, or
    B) to bring the economy to a halt during the Christmas shopping season.

    But in the real world, Option C always has a funny way of popping up.

  • BREAKING NEWS: Apparently a SpaceX Grasshopper vehicle testing reusable operations just exploded in Texas.

    — Donald

    • Egad

      Looks to me as if it lost control at the top of its flight and, as Musk tweeted, the safety system blew it up. If so, probably a fixable problem of the sort test programs are supposed to discover.

    • Coastal Ron

      Last year SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said:

      So we’re 5-for-5 testing on this Grasshopper. But, but that means we’re not pushing hard enough. We’ve got to tunnel one of those vehicle into the ground by trying something really hard

      Apparently they’ve finally started pushing themselves harder.

    • Jeff Foust

      Discussion of the F9R test failure is off-topic for this post. Thank you for your cooperation in keeping discussion here focused on the relevant topic.

  • Malmesbury

    Am I correct in saying that a CR will sideline the Shelby attempt to make Commercial Crew into FAR+?

    • A CR will almost certainly not contain Shelby’s report language, yes.

      As for the overall push to make Commercial Crew an old-fashioned gigabucks never-fly procurement, watch for the contract announcements. If it ends up sole-sourced to Boeing, that’s not a good sign.

      • Michael Kent

        And why is that, Henry?

        • Vladislaw

          Because it would make Boeing a monopoly supplier and what the EELV program showed was, let them be a monopoly and prices rise and innovations fail…

          Pretty simple economics here.

          • Michael Kent

            Boeing was never a monopoly supplier under the EELV program.

            • Henry Vanderbilt

              Nobody said Boeing was. But ULA certainly is.

              • Michael Kent

                Vladislaw did in the post right above mine.

              • Henry Vanderbilt

                Vladislaw said, “it would make Boeing a monopoly supplier and what the EELV program showed was…” You misread that badly as him asserting Boeing was a monopoly supplier under the EELV program, when clearly the meaning was, “it would make Boeing a monopoly supplier” in the Commercial Crew program, with bad results, with EELV then cited as a precedent.

            • Vladislaw

              Boeing didn’t do a merger with Lockheed Martin, they did a joint venture. Boeing is very much the owner of ULA and as such ran their joint venture as a monopoly enterprise.

              Joint venture

              “A joint venture (JV) is a business agreement in which the parties agree to develop, for a finite time, a new entity and new assets by contributing equity. They exercise control over the enterprise and consequently share revenues, expenses and assets. There are other types of companies such as JV limited by guarantee, joint ventures limited by guarantee with partners holding shares.”

              Quick Facts

              “•ULA is a 50-50 joint venture between Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company formed in 2006 to provide reliable, cost-efficient access to space for U.S. government missions.”

              To try and say Boeing doesn’t run certain segments of their corporation as a monopoly enterprise is silly. Businesses routinely try and knock out the competition so they are the only seller.

        • Henry Vanderbilt

          The full answer would take a small book, so I’ll just touch on one aspect of it: Should Boeing be made the sole CCtCap awardee, given their current (far more lucrative) sole-source status on SLS, what incentive would they have to do anything with Commercial Crew other than draw it out and milk it for dollars to the maximum extent possible? Should they succeed in a timely fashion with $800m/year CCtCap, they threaten their $2 billion/year SLS sinecure.

          • Michael Kent

            I will admit you didn’t go where I thought you were going to go, so I’m glad I asked.

            Considering how hard Boeing fought to keep the Commercial Crew program alive, I doubt they see it as a threat to SLS. More likely, in my opinion, is they would like to substitute a so-called CST-200 cislunar variant for the much-delayed Orion.

            If you’re going to go down that path, I’d be more concerned with Lockheed’s work on DreamChaser given their rumored motivations for bidding X-33 the way they did.

            • Henry Vanderbilt

              You’re conflating two very different things. Boeing sees CC as a source of cashflow, hence their support for the program’s existence. They aguably see its success as a threat to the larger cashflow of the SLS program, hence (additional) motivation to grab the whole CC pot, but also a lack of motivation to make CC succeed once they’ve grabbed it.

              A subsequent attempt to grab the Orion business from Lockmart with a CST-100 derivative would be entirely in (recent) character – that’s a very interesting thought.

              X-33 is relevant history, not current situation; I bring it up because those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. Nobody’s been lobbying to give Lockmart (or Sierra Nevada) a monopoly on CC.

            • Coastal Ron

              Michael Kent said:

              More likely, in my opinion, is they would like to substitute a so-called CST-200 cislunar variant for the much-delayed Orion.

              Oh right, like Lockheed Martin would stand aside and let them lobby for that.

              Look, as of today there are no programs that need the Orion, so why in the world would Congress fund another “Apollo on steroids” capsule that doesn’t have a known use?

          • 1CosmicGirl

            Boeing is the prime contractor on ISS and therefore very interested in safe, reliable human transport to LEO. Silly to contemplate that they would sabotage the ISS in favor of SLS.

            • Henry Vanderbilt

              Interesting point.

              But Station these days is a maintenance contract for Boeing, not a new development. Boeing’s Station “sustainment” contract is good for about a quarter-billion a year cashflow to them (http://boeing.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=20295&item=1419) versus well north of a billion a year for SLS.

              Further, lack of a viable US Commercial Crew transport doesn’t even necessarily kill Station, as long as the Russians continue ready to sell Soyuz rides.

              And finally, failure of Commercial Crew might well produce Congressional funding to develop an actual SLS-to-Station capability, adding to Boeing’s already-large SLS cashflow.

              Boeing is run by people prone to being coldly rational about maximizing their bottom line. (The stockholders would rightly fire them were they to take any other approach.) I doubt they’re the sort to fool themselves about SLS’s long-term prospects given a successful operational Commercial Crew program.

  • Robert G. Oler

    the GOP has been on a suicide mission for sometime. they are now running away from the things (impeachment, government shutdown) that so revs up their base but dooms them with everyone else.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Malmesbury

    “A CR will almost certainly not contain Shelby’s report language, yes.”

    That’s what I thought.

    “As for the overall push to make Commercial Crew an old-fashioned gigabucks never-fly procurement, watch for the contract announcements. If it ends up sole-sourced to Boeing, that’s not a good sign.”

    Get an L2 subscription.

    It looks as if we will get 2 full awards. 2 different vehicles flown to ISS before a selection for the actually contract winner for actual commercial crew operations. Fly before buy.

    • “Get an L2 subscription.

      “It looks as if we will get 2 full awards. 2 different vehicles flown to ISS before a selection for the actually contract winner for actual commercial crew operations. Fly before buy.”

      Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. “Looks as if” is all well and good, but I’ll relax a bit when I see that outcome officially announced, not before.

      Mind, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that story actually does reflect what CC management wants to do. But there were also promising “looks as if” stories right before Lockmart’s disastrous surprise X-33 win. Those stories also as best I could tell reflected what X-33 management actually wanted to do. But just as then, there are trememndous amounts of behind-the-scenes pressure on this decision, and just as then, there’s a real danger of a very unpleasant surprise.

  • Malmesbury

    “A CR will almost certainly not contain Shelby’s report language, yes.”

    That’s what I thought.

    “…announcements. If it ends up sole-sourced to Boeing, that’s not a good sign.”

    Get an L2 subscription.

    It looks as if we will get 2 full awards. 2 different vehicles flown to ISS before a selection for the actually contract winner for actual commercial crew operations. Fly before buy.

  • josh

    Congress is dysfunctional. Start over.

  • Malmesbury

    “Congress is dysfunctional. Start over.”

    You are assuming that action is better than inaction. Given the choice between the various bills and a CR, at this point a CR is the best option, IMHO.

  • Malmesbury

    “Considering how hard Boeing fought to keep the Commercial Crew program alive,”

    It is worth considering that mega corps are not monoliths. The CST-100 team are quite an independent group – the recent statements about using F9 instead of Atlas V went down like a lead ballon in some other parts of Boeing.

    Some parts of Boeing saw CST-100 as making a profit on developing stuff. Some wanted to build a space craft. Some saw the whole of CC as dangerous to their interests.

  • vulture4

    I would really like to know the real story on the X-33 if it is available anywhere. If not, perhaps those that know could put it online?

    I don’t think Boeing will see CST-100 as competing with Orion since the ISS support mission for Orion has been abandoned. Boeing is advertising heavily that they will put money into the Florida and KSC economy if selected. AFAIK although they are theoretically equal partners it is Lockheed, not Boeing, that holds the chairmanship of ULA. The merger led to increased costs, making both companies more profitable, but the bigger share went to Lockheed. I’m glad to hear there will be two full awards. All three vehicles have ideas worthy of further development.

    • Egad

      Off topic, I’ll be good afterward.

      > I would really like to know the real story on the X-33 if it is available anywhere. If not, perhaps those that know could put it online?

      Yeah, me too. The X-33 -> VentureStar programs were just so screwed up, programatically, in highly obvious ways that were often noted at the time, usually in sci.space.X. Kinda like, gratuitously, SLS currently.

      Somebody otta write a book.

    • Vladislaw

      vulture4 wrote:

      “I don’t think Boeing will see CST-100 as competing with Orion since the”

      MPCV program will probably be canceled by the time the CST-100 starts flying.

      • Neil

        Vlad wrote: “MPCV program will probably be canceled by the time the CST-100 starts flying.”
        Cancelled by end of 2017? So far it’s the only thing that’s funded that is to fly on SLS. They’re being joined at the hip. Cancel MPCV there’s nothing for SLS.
        Cheers

        • Vladislaw

          Gosh, then I would imagine SLS will be canceled as well.

          • Vladislaw: I would imagine SLS will be canceled as well

            As I implied in another thread, I expect one result of the December flight test of Orion on a Delta-IV Heavy is to prove to the next Administration (of either party) that the SLS is not really needed even for Orion. Such an Orion / Delta-IV Heavy combination would probably be confined to LEO until a refulable upper stage is developed, but developing that and flying fuel to it would be far less expensive than continuing development and flight of the SLS. On the other hand, the Union of Southen Socialist Republicans are bound to fight reality as usual, so any outcome is far from assured.

            — Donald

  • E.P. Grondine

    One thing rather constant in all of these discussions is the view that the NASA budget is fixed, and thus there is a zero sum contest being played out here.

    One of my lessons from Apollo is that the NASA budget is not fixed, neither the manned nor the unmanned segment of it.

    I think that no decision on SLS will be made before the next administration takes office, and further that US launch needs may be far different by then.

    • E.P. Grondine: One of my lessons from Apollo is that the NASA budget is not fixed

      You are correct, NASA’s budget can go down. Although the United States’ budgetary picture appears to be improving (and more than is visible on the surface, e.g., we no longer need to export much of our treasure importing oil), in today’s political environment with gridlock, Tea Party, ever-increasing entitlements that neither party is going to touch, ever-greater military entanglements, and no possibility of a significant increase in taxes, a big budget increase for NASA is not in the cards.

      — Donald

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