Jeff Bingham to Leave Senate Commerce Committee

Jeff Bingham to Leave Senate Commerce Committee

Jeff Bingham, a key staffer in congressional decisions about the future of NASA’s program for the past eight years, has announced that he is leaving the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Bingham will continue to work with the committee over the next several weeks transitioning his responsibilities to a new team led by Bailey Edwards.  He plans to remain deeply involved in space issues, but his specific plans were not announced.

Bingham was chief of staff to then-Senator Jake Garn (R-UT) from 1974-1990.  Garn, a former Navy pilot, served as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee that funded NASA (at that time the VA-HUD subcommittee) and became the first politician to fly on a space shuttle mission (STS-51D in 1985). 

Bingham left the Senate in 1990, and after three years at SAIC, moved to NASA where, among other assignments, he began writing a history of the space station program from a political perspective.  In 2005, he returned to the Senate and became a staffer for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), a very influential Senator who helped craft recent NASA authorization acts, including the 2010 NASA authorization act that created a compromise between Congress and the Obama Administration on the future of the human spaceflight program (i.e., proceeding with the Obama Administration’s proposal for commercial crew while also directing NASA to build its own new large space launch vehicle, the Space Launch System, and the Orion spacecraft to take astronauts beyond low Earth orbit).

Hutchison retired from the Senate at the end of the 112th Congress and Bingham has now decided to follow suit, though he stresses that he is not retiring from being an advocate for the space program.  For those of us still anxious to read his history of the space station program, we can only hope he now will have time to finish it.

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