Like Last Year, New House NASA Bill Prohibits Development of Asteroid Redirect Mission

Like Last Year, New House NASA Bill Prohibits Development of Asteroid Redirect Mission

A copy of the 2014 NASA authorization bill, H.R. 4412, that will be marked up by the Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee tomorrow is posted on the committee’s website.   From a policy perspective, there seem to be only minor changes from the version approved by the committee last year, but a major sticking point — funding levels — seems to be resolved.

Last year’s bill was approved by the committee on a party line vote (11-9) on July 10, 2013.  The most contentious issue was the funding level in the bill — $16.865 billion for FY2014 compared to the $18.1 billion recommended in a Democratic alternative introduced by Rep. Donna Edwards.  NASA’s earth science program was particularly targeted for cuts — about one-third of its request.  The committee’s recommendations by budget line item are summarized in our fact sheet on NASA’s FY2014 budget request.

Funding recommendations are not likely to be an issue In the new bill.  It recommends funding for only one year, FY2014, which is already in progress and the funding levels are identical to appropriated amounts.  The only difference is that the authorization bill specifies how much of the funding in the Space Operations account is for the International Space Station (ISS) program — $2.984 billion.  The Consolidated Appropriations Act that includes NASA’s FY2014 funding did not break down how the $3.778 billion for Space Operations should be allocated.

This is not a comprehensive analysis, but a quick glance reveals only minor differences from a policy perspective. 

  • Like last year, the new bill would —
    • prohibit spending on development of the Asteroid Redirect (or Retrieval) Mission
    • establish a NASA Advisory Council, with members appointed by Congress, that would review the Administration’s proposed budget for NASA for the next fiscal year and provide advice to the President and Congress about it
    • change how NASA deals with termination of and termination liability for major programs
  • Conversely,
    the new bill — 

    • omits a provision that would have set a 6-year term for the NASA Administrator
    • adds a section requiring the NASA Administrator to report to Congress on the extent to which he is complying with the advice of the 2012 report of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel

The markup is at 9:00 am ET tomorrow morning, April 9, 2014, in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.  Committee proceedings usually are webcast on the committee’s website.

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