Space Access Update #120 9/23/10
Copyright 2010 by Space Access Society
URGENT NASA Funding Battle Action
In a surprise move, the House
parties to the ongoing House-Senate negotiations over a NASA Authorization bill
have unilaterally come up with a substitute version of their original (and very
bad) HR.5781. This new version of HR.5781
may be voted on as soon as tomorrow, Friday 9/24. After a quick review of the new bill text, we
strongly urge you to IMMEDIATELY contact your Representative and ask them to
reject HR.5781 and instead approve the Senate version S.3729.
Briefly, the Senate bill is
an acceptable compromise between the White House's NASA reform proposals and
the House Science Committee's attempt to preserve the untenable Ares/Orion
status quo. This new bill from the House
Science Committee does roughly split the difference between the Senate's
(already marginal) Crew/Cargo and R&D funding numbers and the old House
version's totally unacceptable numbers, and is in that sense a
However, this new version of HR.5781
places a whole tangle of reviews, reports, certifications, and other
requirements on Commercial Crew, the general effect of which cannot be other
than to discourage such efforts. It
retains specific Commercial Crew poison pill requirements that neither NASA nor
existing Russian providers have to meet.
It retains the old version's general support for continued development
of something a lot like Ares/Orion, and (assuming that ever even flies at the
reduced-yet-further-from-Augustine-minimums funding) it effectively then allows
government competition with US commercial crew vendors via an "if
practicable" escape clause on its "prohibition" of such competition.
All that aside, it is our
understanding that, while this version reflects some of the previous
negotiations with the Senate, it was NOT run past or approved by the Senate
parties. It is a unilateral move by the
House Science Committee to preempt the process, and as such it will inevitably
lead to more months of Congressional wrangling, more months of NASA paralysis
and drift, increased vulnerability of NASA Exploration to the Deficit Reduction
Commission's attentions, and more months of massive uncertainty for the workers
and organizations involved.
Enough is enough. We think it's time to settle on the Senate
compromise, resolve this matter, and move forward.
What To Do
We ask that you
call your Representative's DC office (go to http://www.house.gov/zip/ZIP2Rep.html
for their name and party, and call them via the US Capitol switchboard at (202)
224-3121), TODAY if at all possible and overnight or by early Friday morning at
latest, and (politely!) tell the person you end up talking to (most likely a
staffer or a staffer's voicemail) the following:
Ask them to vote against House bill HR.5781
(or any House-written NASA Authorization bill) if it comes to the floor this
Friday or next week. Ask them to instead
vote to pass Senate bill S.3729 before the House recesses for the election.
- If your Representative is a Democrat,
ask them to contact Majority Leader Hoyer in opposition to any NASA bill other
than Senate bill S.3729 coming to the floor, and to request that S.3729 be
brought to the floor for an up or down vote next week.
- If your Representative is a
Republican, ask them to contact Minority Whip Eric Cantor in opposition to any
NASA bill other than Senate bill S.3729 coming to the floor, and to request
that S3729 be brought to the floor for an up or down vote next week.
- If your Congressman is a
strong supporter of the House bill - Bart Gordon, Gabrielle Giffords,
Alan Grayson, etc - politely explain that you strongly support S.3729, the
Senate NASA Authorization bill, and you'd like them to also, because it's a
reasonable compromise between the White House and House positions, and because
NASA really needs an Authorization to let it begin moving forward again.
thanks for your time
for Space Access Society
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