IN CASE YOU MISSED IT – Houston Chronicle
“Backers of NASA's
Constellation program scored a significant victory Thursday by winning the
Senate Appropriations Committee's support to block the Obama administration
from terminating any part of the $108 billion back-to-the-moon program before
October. The maneuver was pushed by Sen.
Kay Bailey Hutchison of Dallas and proposed by Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah.” May 14, 2010
Houston Chronicle -- NASA's Constellation gets big boost in SenateOrder keeping it alive is added to must-pass bill funding the war
By STEWART M. POWELL
WASHINGTON — Backers of NASA's Constellation program scored a significant victory Thursday by winning the Senate Appropriations Committee's support to block the Obama administration from terminating any part of the $108 billion back-to-the-moon program before October.
And they did it by piggy-backing the restriction onto a must-pass wartime supplemental budget package involving combat dollars for Afghanistan.
Up until Thursday, the battle over NASA has largely been a political war of words — and this is the first time that a congressional committee has responded directly to President Barack Obama's NASA proposal since February, when the president declared the Constellation program should be shelved.
The maneuver was pushed by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Dallas and proposed by Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah.
By including the language in a $58.8 billion budget supplemental to underwrite the costs of combat, Hutchison and her allies virtually assured that the restriction will be adopted by the full Senate and House and signed by Obama — because the costs of the Afghanistan war must be funded.
declares that NASA funds “shall be available to fund continued performance of
Constellation contracts, and performance of such Constellation contracts may
not be terminated for convenience by the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration in Fiscal Year 2010.”
The amendment sailed through unanimously.
“The administration's proposals have not been approved by Congress and probably will not be, and it was premature for them to begin terminating procedures,” added Hutchison, a member of the 30-member panel.
“In the supplemental bill, we were able to stop the administration from terminating contracts for work on the Constellation program,” she added.
Until now, Houston-area lawmakers have relied on a public relations campaign to save the moon program — or at least extend the life of the space shuttle — through letter writing and lobbying to build support in Congress. The Constellation program is managed by Houston's Johnson Space Center, home of NASA mission control for manned operations.
“This is the strongest
indication yet that Congress is still not convinced that the president's
proposed change of direction to cancel Constellation is the direction that the
nation should take if we want to maintain American leadership in human
spaceflight,' said Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land. “This action in the Senate
will galvanize the House.”
Culberson has a bill
The spending package could be the only major budget measure to clear Congress before the mid-term congressional elections in November.
Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston is pushing a similar effort in the House Appropriations Committee to “help save America's manned space program.”
“I will continue to use every resource at my disposal to ensure that America maintains its competitive edge in space,” he said.
Obama wants to kill
the program and shift the money to extending the life of the International
Space Station, fostering a fledgling commercial spacecraft industry and putting
greater emphasis on earth science missions.
Congress members have been diligently questioning space agency officials about the future of contractors and employees currently working on Constellation projects. In a hearing just this week, NASA administrator Charles Bolden was grilled repeatedly about alleged efforts by NASA to begin terminating or adjusting contracts with aerospace firms working on the Constellation program.
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