Chairman Gordon on House Vote of NASA Reauthorization

AmericaSpace Note: It is said that politics is the art of the possible. In a clear effort to not let the friend of the perfect be the enemy of the good, Chaiman Gordon has decided to forego a legislative fight with the Senate and get a Bill that, though not perfect, is currently better than laying-off thousands of contractors and temporarily ending work on Orion, etc.

(Washington, DC) – Today, Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) offered the following statement:

“I anticipate that the House will consider the Senate version of the NASA reauthorization on Wednesday. I still believe that the bipartisan Compromise language we released is a better approach. I have a number of concerns with the Senate bill, including:

  • The Senate bill includes an unfunded mandate to keep the Shuttle program going through the remainder of FY 2011, even after the Shuttle is retired, at a cost of $500 million or more without clarifying where the funds will come from, all but ensuring that other important NASA programs will be cannibalized.
  • I am concerned that the Senate bill is overly prescriptive for the design of the follow-on rocket. The end result is the Senate trying to design a rocket for NASA, while being silent on the safety of the vehicle. The compromise language lets NASA determine the best approach in the design of the follow-on human spaceflight and exploration program.
  • The compromise language ensures access to the ISS and minimizes the human spaceflight transportation ‘gap’ that will exist after the Shuttle is retired. The Senate bill does not provide a timetable for a government backup capability, which could make NASA’s access to space completely dependent on commercial providers. I am hopeful the commercial providers will be successful, but, whereas they have missed contractual cargo milestones thus far, I am wary of being completely dependent on them, because if they fail, we will be dependent on the Russians for longer than absolutely necessary.

It has become clear that there is not time remaining to pass a Compromise bill through the House and the Senate. For the sake of providing certainty, stability, and clarity to the NASA workforce and larger space community, I felt it was better to consider a flawed bill than no bill at all as the new fiscal year begins. I will continue to advocate to the Appropriators for the provisions in the Compromise language.”

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