A June 30, 2013 post in the Space Politics blog discusses what is likely to be a funding gap for NASA between the House and the Senate. An authorization bill now being considered by the House Science Committee contemplates less than $17 billion for the space agency for at least the next two fiscal years. Sen. Bill Nelson, the chairman of the space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, has suggested that this number is too low which suggests that the Senate version of the authorization bill will be higher.
Space Politics also suggests that there will be more money for NASA in the Senate version of the appropriations bill:
“The potential for that gap can be seen in the budget allocations given to the two CJS appropriations subcommittees, in effect the pots of money they have to spend. The House CJS allocation, released in May, is $47.2 billion, while the Senate CJS allocation, released last week, is nearly $52.3 billion. So it shouldn’t be a surprise if Senate appropriators offer significantly more to NASA than their House counterparts when they get to their CJS bills, but what that eventually means for the space agency given the bigger issues about spending, and the prospects for another round of sequestration, remains to be seen.”
The thinking in the Senate subcommittee on the future direction of NASA is unknown at this time. The House authorizers have nixed the idea of the mission to an asteroid in favor of expeditions and eventually bases on both the moon and Mars. Whether the Senate will follow suit, adhere to the asteroid mission, or choose some option in between is open to question. Some have questioned the House’s willingness to dream big when it comes to space exploration that seems to coincide with an unwillingness to pay for it.
Also the Senate space subcommittee has a new ranking member, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Aside from some general support for NASA as being important to national security and some support for commercial space, Cruz’s thinking on the future direction of the civil space program has yet to be articulated, Interestingly, Cruz is currently taking a bi-partisan approach to space policy, casting himself as a partner to Nelson, the committee chairman. This stance is different from those taken by the senator on other issues, such as immigration and gun control, upon which he had not only clashed with Democrats but other Republicans as well.
Mark R, Whittington is the author of Children of Apollo, The Last Moonwalker and Other Stories, Dreams of Barry’s Stepfather, and The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper