What's Happening in Space Policy November 2-6, 2015

What's Happening in Space Policy November 2-6, 2015

Here is our list of space policy events for the week of November 2-6, 2015 and any insight we can offer about them.   The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

Tomorrow (Monday) marks the 15th anniversary of the first crew’s arrival at the International Space Station (ISS).  At least two people have been aboard the ISS ever since — 15 years of “permanent occupancy.”  NASA TV will air a press conference with the six men currently aboard at 10:00 am ET.  They are Americans Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren, Japanese Kimiya Yui, and Russians Mikhail Kornienko, Oleg Kononenko and Sergei Volkov.  Kelly and Kornienko are a little over half way through their one-year-in-space mission and Kelly just broke the record for the longest duration spacefligjtt by an American.  Michael Lopez-Alegria had held the record, 215  days, since April 2007.  (The Russian record is 438 days, set by Valery Polyakov in 1995.  Three other Russians have spent one year or more in space on a single mission.)

Two NASA Advisory Council (NAC) committees will meet this week.  The Science Committee will hold its meeting via telecon tomorrow, while the Human Exploration and Operations Committee meets in person at NASA HQ on Wednesday and Thursday.

On Capitol Hill, the Senate may take up the compromise version of the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act this week. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said on the Senate floor on Thursday that he hoped it would be voted on very soon. There was speculation it might pass last week, but the Senate was focused on the budget/debt limit deal and recessed for the weekend after passing it at 3:00 am Friday morning.  The President is expected to sign it into law, perhaps tomorrow.

The Senate may also deal with the Export-Import Bank reauthorization this week, but that is less certain.   The House passed a bill to reopen the Bank last week after pro-ExIm Bank Republicans used a rare parliamentary maneuver to get the bill out of committee and onto the floor so the entire House could vote on it.  The chairman of the Financial Services Committee, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), opposes the Bank and was the obstacle to getting the bill out of committee.  He was not happy.   Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he will not pass a stand-alone bill for the Bank.  That means he would tack it onto some other piece of legislation, so it will have to go back to the House for another vote.  How that will turn out is an open question.  The House is now under new leadership. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was elected Speaker on Thursday, replacing Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), who resigned under pressure from the right wing of his party.

During Boehner’s final week, Washington showed the blistering pace at which it can work if it wants to.  The deal to suspend the debt limit through March 2017 and raise the budget caps by $50 billion for FY2016 and $30 billion for FY2017 took only four days to get through the House and Senate.  House and Senate appropriators no doubt are already at work deciding which agencies and programs will benefit.   House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) is optimistic that all 12 regular appropriations bills can be finalized by December 11 when the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires.  They will probably be combined into a single “omnibus” appropriations bill.

As for this week, the list below shows everything we know about as of Sunday morning.  Check back during the week for anything new that gets added to our Events of Interest list.

Monday, November 2

Tuesday-Wednesday, November 3-4

Wednesday, November 4

Wednesday-Thursday, November 4-5

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