House Changes Hands

At the moment, CNN is reporting that the GOP has picked-up 52, and perhaps more, seats in the House of Representatives and has therefore taken control of the House. Meanwhile, the Senate will remain in the hands of the Democratic Party, although with a smaller margin. Most important for the nation’s human space flight program, it is unlikely that the bipartisan spirit that both houses have shown for our nation’s space program will change with the change of leadership in the House. That is not to say however that change is not coming. It is.

The first change will be NASA’s Appropriations bill. During the House floor debate concerning passage of the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, House Appropriations Committee member Rep. Culberson made it clear that the Act, which originated in the Senate as S. 3729, was in need of serious repair, which would be addressed when it came time to write NASA’s Appropriation Bill. While there was a good chance that this would be the case regardless of the Party running the Appropriations Committee, with the GOP’s victory, it is a certainty.

In gaining control over the House Committee responsible for NASA Authorizations, the team of Rep. Hall and Olsen can be counted on to force answers from those in the Obama Administration responsible for the political and policy debacle that was the President’s proposed changes in the nation’s human space flight program. It’s important to remember that it was Rep. Hall, the likely incoming Chairman of Science & Technology, who said of the President’s space proposal, “I’m so mad, I can’t even see straight!” The truth about the who and the how of NASA’s attempt to strangle Constellation, the 2010 Omnibus language preserving Constellation as the Program of Record” will emerge. We doubt that the truth will set anyone free.

For those who have worked so hard to preserve our nation’s human space flight program, tonight is their night. While space may not have been the premier policy driving the change in Congress, the traits of the Administration that drove it to conceive that policy, especially the lack of transparency of the policy’s creation, are. Tonight is a sign that the American people want their wishes taken into account when changing their nation. We hope for the country that the Administration is listening.


  1. I think the new alignment of power will create a better space policy, but I am still concerned about the timeframe and the “hows” of building the next generation launch platform(s). Lenghthy debate may be healthy for decision makers, but it is the very thing that has slowed manned space development to a crawl(although the Obama plan certainly needed to be debated away!). I just hope that the new house (and changed senate) have a sense of urgency behind their decisions regarding space. America desperately needs a clear space goal and direction for those of us who are commited to it. When this happens, I think we’ll see the old can-do spirit of NASA and their contractors at work again.

  2. Hey Jimmie: You claim that this is a non-partisan blog yet every time the Republicans do something you jump up and down with glee and when the Democrats do something you dump all over them. What a joke.

    • First, a bit of spelling is in order–it’s Jimmy.

      This site is focused on only one thing–aerospace. If a candidate, regardless of Party affiliation, is pro-space and pro-aerospace, we are pro that candidate.

      What we dumped-on was the President’s backpedaling of support for a strong human space flight program and the closing of the Shuttle-Constellation gap, as promised in his Titusville speech in August 2008. President Obama won Florida largely because he dumped his previously anti-Space policy, which his campaign announced on November 21, 2007, in favor of a pro-Constellation policy. When the President decided it was going to be the policy of his Administration to dump our national human space flight program in favor of outsourcing it to so-called “commercial” entities who wanted billions of dollars in subsidies to develop their own crewed spacecraft after already getting hundreds of millions in subsidies to put up a Delta IV 401 class launch vehicle, you bet–we called him and his people on it. We strongly supported Democrats such as Mikulski, Giffords, Gordon and Nelson as they fought to put our nation’s human spaceflight program on a more sound and sane footing. And we applauded the bi-partisan and bi-cameral support that NASA’s human space flight program found.

      Lastly, Carl, it’s clear from your comment that you don’t follow this site and haven’t read even a few of our nearly 600 posts put up since Feb. 1, a day that will live in space policy infamy for decades to come. Before you rush to the partisan gutter, try painting this site as a partisan rag, or me as a partisan, read.

  3. Could be a classic case of “careful what you wish for.” Odds are that space issues will get no near-term traction in the House, and NASA’s budget will shrink or remain static…unless the lame duck Congress somehow passes an appropriation before January. Should be interesting, but probably not in a good way.

  4. It is very important to remember that the initial defeat of the President’s proposed space policy was as bipartisan as it was bicameral. From Senator Nelson to Rep. Gordon and Giffords, Democrats and Republicans worked hand-in-hand to stop much of the President’s proposal.

    The above post was not meant as a celebratory one. Whether the House had remained in the hands of the Democrats or not, it is doubtful that the House Appropriations Committee would cut much slack to S. 3729. This is because its passage in the House was so contingent upon moving back to Gordon’s Committee’s 2010 NASA Authorization Act.

    But where some Democrats with oversight of NASA might be reluctant to subpoena Administration officials to get to the bottom not only of how their new human space flight policy was born, just the opposite is true of the Republicans. Also to be investigated is the who and how of the tactics used in the Administration’s attempt to strangle the current program of record, Constellation.

    My own personal prediction is that by year-end 2011 some Executive branch officials involved in either of the above mentioned efforts will either be spending more time with their families or getting to know very well their defense attorney.

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