House Appropriators Set to Restrain Funding for FAA's Space Office – UPDATE 2

House Appropriators Set to Restrain Funding for FAA's Space Office – UPDATE 2

Update, June 4, 2015:   The full committee made no change to the subcommittee’s recommendation, but an amendment was adopted during floor consideration on June 3 to add $250,000 for the office.

Update, April 29, 2015:  The subcommittee approved the bill today with no change to the funding for this office.  The date for full committee markup has not been announced.

Original Story, April 28, 2015:  The Transportation-HUD (T-HUD) subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee is set to mark up its FY2016 funding bill tomorrow.  It includes the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), which is part of the Department of Transportation (DOT).   The draft bill would keep AST’s funding at the same level as FY2015 instead of granting a requested increase of $1.5 million to pay for additional staff.

AST is funded at $16.605 million for FY2015.  The draft T-HUD bill provides that level for FY2016, too, rather than the $18.115 million requested by President Obama.   The requested increase of $1.509 million is to pay for 13 additional full time equivalent (FTE) staff members.  DOT’s budget justification documents explain that the additional staff are needed to handle an expected increase in the number of commercial space launches requiring FAA licenses. Of the $1.509 million increase, $1.258 million would pay for the additional staff.  The remainder covers mandatory personnel costs such as the FY2015 and FY2016 pay raises of 1 percent and 1.3 percent respectively.

The draft bill does not provide any explanation for denying the requested increase for AST, but it cuts DOT’s total budget by $1 billion compared to its current FY2015 funding level, or by $6.8 billion compared to the President’s request for FY2016.  Under the draft bill, DOT would receive $17.2 billion in appropriations.  The draft bill is posted on the committee’s website.

The bill is scheduled for markup at 9:30 am ET tomorrow (April 29).

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