NASA Reauthorization Approved by House Panel

5-1 Mercury 7

Looking Back: The Mercury 7
On April 9, 1959, NASA introduced its first astronaut class, the Mercury 7: Front row, from left, Walter M. Schirra Jr., Donald K. “Deke” Slayton, John H. Glenn Jr., and M. Scott Carpenter; back row, Alan B. Shepard Jr., Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, and L. Gordon Cooper Jr

By Anne L. Kim

CQ Roll Call

 

A House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee revisited a reauthorization of NASA on Wednesday, approving a one-year proposal that would authorize the same amount of money lawmakers appropriated for the agency for the current fiscal year.

The panel’s Space Subcommittee advanced the amended measure HR 4412 by voice vote, less than a year after the full committee on July 18, 2013 approved a reauthorization measure (HR 2687<http://www.cq.com/bill/113/HR2687>) on a party line vote of 22-17.

Full committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said he hoped to advance the bill through full committee and the floor “as soon as possible.”

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee backed its own three-year reauthorization S 1317 in a party line vote of 13-12 on July 30, 2013. That bill would call for $18.1 billion for the space agency in fiscal 2014, with annual increases up to $18.8 billion in fiscal 2016.

While the measure previously approved by the House panel would authorize the agency for two years at $16.9 billion annually for fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2015, the one-year measure approved by the panel Wednesday would authorize $17.6 billion for the agency for fiscal 2014.

That funding level is the same amount of money Congress appropriated to the agency for the current fiscal year under the omnibus appropriations law enacted in January.

A manager’s amendment adopted by voice vote would:

•Remove a provision that would have blocked NASA from redirecting an asteroid for human exploration. Instead, it would maintain provisions calling for more information, and would add similar provisions that would require an independent assessment of a possible Mars flyby human spaceflight mission in 2021.

• Call for NASA to make speedy development of its heavy lift rocket and crew capsule the “highest priority” for its human exploration program.

• Require NASA to make safety its highest priority in selecting contracts for private space companies to transport astronauts.

• Remove provisions that would have created a NASA advisory council.

It also would largely leave out earth science and education titles, which ranking Democrat Donna Edwards, D-Md., said needed continued negotiations.

The bill also would call for a roadmap for human exploration of Mars that would define the stepping stone missions needed to get there. The bill backed by the panel last summer included similar provisions.

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