House SS&T Subcommittee To Mark Up NASA Authorization Bill on April 9

House SS&T Subcommittee To Mark Up NASA Authorization Bill on April 9

The Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology (SS&T) Committee will mark up the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2014 next week.

The committee announced this afternoon that the markup will be at 9:00 am ET on Wednesday, April 9, in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.  A draft of the bill is not posted on the committee’s website yet and no bill number has been assigned.

Last year, the House SS&T Committee and its Senate counterpart, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, each marked up separate and very different versions of a 2013 NASA Authorization Act:  H.R.  2687 and S. 1317.  Approved by committee on partisan lines in each case, neither piece of legislation advanced beyond committee approval (the next step would have been for the bills to be reported from committee; neither was).  Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) introduced a Democratic version of a NASA authorization bill in the House (H.R. 2616) and offered it as an amendment to H.R. 2687 during markup, but it was defeated on party lines.

The major difference between Democrats and Republicans on both sides of the Hill was the amount of funding allocated to NASA.   Republicans wanted a comparatively low figure, while Democrats wanted more.

For the House SS&T committee, the total for NASA in FY2014 would have been $16.865 billion, which would have stayed within House-approved budget caps approved early last year in the House budget resolution.   The Senate budget resolution was based on a different philosophy and would have provided much more money for the government over the next 10 years than the House.  The Senate version of the 2013 NASA authorization bill would have allocated $18.1 billion for NASA for FY2014.  For a summary of funding levels recommended in the House- and Senate-committee approved bills, see our fact sheet on NASA’s FY2014 budget request.

Subsequently, in December the House and Senate jointly agreed to budget caps for FY2014 and FY2015 about half way between what each chamber had separately approved.  Now, with the cap for FY2015 already agreed to by both chambers, the chances for agreement on a NASA authorization bill are improved, though far from certain.

Two policy areas of disagreement between the House and Senate were that the House bill would have prohibited spending any money on the Asteroid Redirect Mission (the Senate bill was silent) and the House bill would have cut NASA’s earth science budget significantly (about 30 percent) from the request while the Senate bill recommended a much smaller cut.   House committee Republicans argue that other agencies have responsibilities for studying the Earth and therefore this should not a focus of NASA’s activities.

Wednesday’s markup will be just one step on a path to pass a 2014 NASA authorization act.   Unless it is very noncontroversial and can be taken up by the House under suspension of the rules (like the Weather Forecasting Improvement Act passed last week), getting time for floor debate could be another hurdle.  This is an election year and the number of legislative days is dwindling.   Nonetheless it is a step, assuming that the subcommittee approves it.   Doing so on a bipartisan rather than partisan basis would improve its chances of making it through the rest of the process.  Only one hour has been scheduled for the markup suggesting that there is broad agreement on it already.

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.