Influential Senator Signs On to Commercial Crew Downselect Compromise

Influential Senator Signs On to Commercial Crew Downselect Compromise

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), an influential Senator on NASA issues, expressed her support for the agreement reached between Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and NASA on how many companies should be funded in the next phase of NASA’s commercial crew program.

In a press release, Hutchison said she applauded the agreement announced yesterday.    Hutchison has a particularly influential role in NASA issues in the Senate because she serves in key positions both on NASA’s authorizing and appropriating committees.  She is the top Republican on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that authorizes NASA’s activities, and the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee that funds NASA.

At the CJS subcommittee markup of NASA’s FY2013 funding bill (S. 2323), Hutchison spoke strongly about the need to limit the number of companies that get funded in the next phase to two instead of four.   The chair of the subcommittee, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), stressed that was Hutchison’s personal view and not the subcommittee’s position.  The report on the bill is silent on the number of companies, but urges NASA not to obligate itself to more companies than it can reasonably expect to fund in the current budget environment.

Referring to her position that there should be only two awardees, Hutchison said in the press release that the Wolf-NASA agreement “follows that prescription and is welcome news,”

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