Events of Interest: Weeks of December 19-31, 2011

Events of Interest: Weeks of December 19-31, 2011

As the year winds down, most of us are worried about holiday shopping and what our New Year’s resolutions should be.  Thus, there is only one space-policy related event of which we are aware for these final two weeks of 2011 — plus a human spaceflight launch.  However, Congress is still in session, so one needs to keep an eye on what they may do.

During the Week

The House and Senate schedules for the next two weeks are uncertain.  On Friday and Saturday, they cleared the Consolidated Appropriations bill that funds the rest of the government through September 30, 2012 and other measures.   One issue — extension of the payroll tax holiday — remains unresolved, however.   The House passed a version on Friday, the Senate passed a different version on Saturday, House Republicans have said they do not like the Senate version and plan to vote on another version late Monday.  What will happen after that is unclear.   There appears to be agreement to extend the “tax break for the middle class,” but how to pay for it and what other issues (“riders”) might be wrapped into it (e.g., the controversial proposed oil pipeline between Canada and the Gulf Coast), are being hotly debated.   From a space policy standpoint, the major issue is whether such legislation might include a rescission from already appropriated FY2012 funds for agencies like NASA and NOAA.   Those agencies dodged one bullet on Saturday when the Senate did not agree to a House-passed resolution to do just that, but anything can happen as long as Congress is in session.

Wednesday, December 21

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