Gun Control Filibuster Derails NASA-NOAA Spending Bill – UPDATE

Gun Control Filibuster Derails NASA-NOAA Spending Bill – UPDATE

UPDATE, June 16, 2016:  Sen. Murphy ended the filibuster at 2:11 am ET this morning after receiving assurances that votes would be allowed on his gun control amendments.

ORIGINAL STORY, June 15, 2016:  Several Senate Democrats began a filibuster against the FY2017 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill this morning, blocking action. The Department of Justice is one of the agencies funded by the bill (which also includes NASA and NOAA) and the filibuster is fueled by Democratic gun control demands most recently in the wake of the tragedy in Orlando, FL this past weekend.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) started the filibuster and has since been joined by other Democrats who have been seeking more effective gun control measures especially since the Sandy Hook, CT massacre four years ago that killed 20 schoolchildren and six adults.

Murphy vowed to remain in control of the floor “until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together” on how to prevent terrorist suspects (in the Orlando case) from buying guns.

The Senate version of the CJS bill (S. 2837) would provide $19.306 billion for NASA and $2.029 billion for NOAA’s satellite programs.

The Obama Administration issued a veto threat against the bill yesterday, in part because of the money provided for the Orion and Space Launch System (SLS) programs in excess of what the Administration requested.  The request was $1.130 billion for Orion and $1.310 billion for SLS.  The bill provides $1.300 billion for Orion and $2.150 billion for SLS, an increase of $170 million and $840 million respectively, a total of $1.010 billion above the President’s request.

In its Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on the bill, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) declared that the Administration is “deeply concerned that the bill adds more than $1 billion” above the request “while underfunding other key NASA programs–an approach that would result in an unbalanced exploration program that is unable to achieve shared exploration goals.” 

It called on Congress to fully fund Exploration R&D, Space Technology, Aeronautics, Science, and Space Operations.  (See our NASA budget fact sheet for a comparison of the President’s request and the Senate Appropriations Committee’s recommendations and the complicated issue of what the President’s request really is.)

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