House CJS Subcommittee Adopts FY2015 Bill, Wolf Suggests NASA Coverup on Security

House CJS Subcommittee Adopts FY2015 Bill, Wolf Suggests NASA Coverup on Security

The Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee adopted the draft FY2015 appropriations bill released yesterday without amendment.  The bill funds NASA and several other agencies, including NOAA.  Retiring chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) used the opportunity to criticize the press for not covering issues about NASA’s security controls and practices, suggesting there is a NASA coverup that its systems are compromised.

The one hour subcommittee markup was dominated by tributes to Wolf, who
is retiring at the end of the year.  The accolades focused on his
long service in support of human rights around the world and against
prescription drug abuse in the United States.

Wolf is an ardent opponent of the Chinese government because of its human rights abuses.  He has focused for many years on concerns about Chinese cyber attacks against U.S. government information technology systems and access to facilities at NASA.  Last year he essentially directed NASA to charter a review of the agency’s security controls and practices by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA).  The study was chaired by former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and made 27 recommendations for improving security at NASA.

Wolf said today that the CJS appropriations bill funds implementation of NAPA’s recommendations, but added: “They found [NASA’s] systems were compromised.  If you read the report it’s troubling.  I’m surprised the press has failed — I think it’s maybe because NASA’s trying to cover it up — but its systems are being compromised.”  

He went on to say that the bill funds implementation of the NAPA recommendations to “ensure that NASA follows through on the commitments to the committee to do much better in protecting cutting edge technology and research from those who want to steal it.”

As for NASA funding levels, no details were revealed beyond what was in the subcommittee draft released yesterday, though there were a few hints.   Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) thanked Wolf for continuing funding for SOFIA; Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) thanked Wolf for supporting the Europa mission, adding that he hoped it would be launched on a rocket built in Rep. Aderholt’s (R-AL) district, a reference to the Space Launch System; and subcommittee ranking Democrat Chaka Fattah (D-PA) said the bill includes “increased” funding for commercial crew.  That presumably means an increase over the FY2014 appropriated level ($696 million), not above the FY2015 requested level ($848 million).  Fattah’s statement also refers to an increase in funding for Space Technology, but that is an increase over what Congress provided for FY2014; the subcommittee recommendation is a cut of $85.5 million compared to the President’s request for FY2015.

Overall, the subcommittee is recommending a significant increase for NASA in FY2015 — $17,896 million compared to the $17,461 million request.  Further details typically are provided in the report to accompany the bill, which usually is made public after full committee markup.  The date for full committee markup has not been announced.

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