Updated: Senate Passes Consolidated Appropriations Bill

Updated: Senate Passes Consolidated Appropriations Bill

UPDATED: This article, originally published yesterday (Sunday), has been updated to correct the bill number, provide a link to the bill and report, and include the specific language in the bill that prohibits NASA from spending funds to change the Constellation program until Congress has time to consider whatever decision is made by the Executive Branch.

The Senate just passed the FY2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 3288, H. Rept. 111-366), which includes the Commerce-Justice-Science bill that funds NASA, NOAA and NSF, by a vote of 57-35.

It is a package of six of the seven remaining annual appropriations bills needed to fund the government. The total package is $1.1 trillion (NASA gets $18.7 billion). The bill now goes to the White House where the President is expected to sign it. Only the Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations bill (H.R. 3326) remains to be passed by Congress. That may be concluded by the end of this week when the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires, but because the bill is expected to contain a number of unrelated provisions, such as raising the debt limit, it could be subject to extended debate. If it is not passed, another CR will be needed to fund DOD.

The NASA portion of the bill (in Division B, Commerce-Justice-Science) includes a prohibition on spending any funds to terminate any part of the Constellation program or to begin a new program. The language is on page 90 of the bill beginning on line 9 and reads as follows:

“That notwithstanding section 505 of this Act, none of the funds provided herein and from prior years that remain available for obligation during fiscal year 2010 shall be available for the termination or elimination of any program, project or activity of the architecture for the Constellation program nor shall such funds be available to create or initiate a new program, project or activity, unless such program termination, elimination, creation, or initiation is provided in subsequent appropriations Acts.”

The bill, accompanying report language, and other documents are on the website of the House Approriations Committee.

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