House Passes Infrastructure Bill with $1.115 Billion for NASA

House Passes Infrastructure Bill with $1.115 Billion for NASA

The House finally passed the second bill to address President Biden’s infrastructure agenda. This “human infrastructure” bill has $1.115 billion for NASA, far less than what NASA Administrator Bill Nelson once hoped for, but would be a significant boost for the agency on top of its regular appropriations nonetheless. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

After a bitter battle not only between Democrats and Republicans but within the Democratic party itself, the bill, H.R. 5376, passed this morning 220-213. The vote on the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) came after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) waged a filibuster-like delay, speaking on the floor of the House for 8 hours and 32 minutes starting at 8:38 pm ET last night and ending at 5:10 am ET this morning.

Congressional historians are pointing out that Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) did the same thing in 2018 when she was Minority Leader, speaking for 8 hours and 7 minutes on immigration issues, setting a record not broken until now.

The House briefly adjourned until 8:00 am ET and then the vote was called.

All but one Democrat voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Jared Goldman (D-Maine) voted no. All but one Republican voted against the bill. Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) did not vote.

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) hailed passage of the bill, which includes funds for seven agencies under the committee’s jurisdiction, including NASA which gets $1.115 billion. A committee fact sheet details all but $2 million for NASA’s Office of Inspector General:

Nelson responded in a tweet.

That is only about one-quarter of the $4.4 billion for NASA the committee originally proposed, but Democratic objections to the bill’s overall pricetag prompted substantial cuts. At one point, this was a $3.5 trillion bill over 10 years. It is now $1.75-2 trillion over 10 years. Advocates assert it is completely paid for by revenue measures included in the bill. The Congressional Budget Office concluded yesterday, however, that it would increase the debt by $367 billion over 10 years, but acknowledging that does not take into account revenue that “may be generated by additional funding for tax enforcement.”

The bill now goes to the Senate where its fate is uncertain. Democrats are using a budget process called reconciliation to pass this legislation, which cannot be filibustered in the Senate and thus requires only a simple majority vote. None of the 50 Republicans support the measure, so all 48 Democrats and two Independents must vote in favor of it, with Vice President Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is not a sure bet, however, so the bill may well change before it passes that side of Capitol Hill. If so, it would have to go back to the House for another vote.

Congress finally passed the first part of the infrastructure package, for physical infrastructure like roads and bridges, two weeks ago. That bill, with $1 trillion in spending over 10 years, had bipartisan support.

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