Press Release

House Science Committee Unanimously Approves NASA Authorization Bill

By SpaceRef Editor
July 14, 2005
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House Science Committee Unanimously Approves NASA Authorization Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – By a vote of 36 to 0, the House Science Committee today unanimously passed H.R. 3070, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Authorization Act of 2005.  The bill is expected to come before the full House on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

The Committee passed by voice vote a Substitute amendment offered by Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Committee Ranking Member Bart Gordon (D-TN), Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Mark Udall (D-CO), that reflected extensive negotiations between the Minority and Majority.  The Substitute includes most of the text of the original version of H.R. 3070 that was introduced by Calvert and Boehlert, and many provisions, some of them in revised form, from the Democratic bill, H.R. 3250, that was introduced late Tuesday.

“This bill is a true compromise,” Chairman Boehlert said in discussing the Substitute.  “Both sides got some things.  Both sides gave up some things.  What’s important is the future the bill outlines for NASA.  The Substitute, in effect, endorses the President’s vision, points us back to the moon, and provides the funding necessary to move ahead with the development of the Crew Exploration Vehicle.  At the same time, the Substitute provides more funding for science and aeronautics than the President requested.  And the substitute allows NASA to move ahead with its plans to gradually move away from its current human space flight programs.” 

Chairman Calvert said, “This bill defines the future of NASA and provides strong Congressional oversight to an agency in transition.  I want to thank Chairman Boehlert for his leadership on this issue as well as Ranking Members Bart Gordon and Mark Udall for their hard work.  I am delighted that we were able to negotiate a bi-partisan bill and I know we will continue to work together when we consider the bill on the House floor.”

The primary differences between the Substitute and the Majority and Minority bills are listed below.

Unlike H.R. 3250, the Substitute:

  • Drops language that prevents Shuttle retirement until the Crew Exploration Vehicle is in operation;
  • Endorses the goal of returning Americans to the Moon by 2020;
  • Drops the requirement that the International Space Station include a centrifuge;
  • Drops mandatory research topics for aeronautics and instead lists options for aeronautics research;
  • Drops authorization for Fiscal Year (FY) 08; and
  • Does not breakdown authorization levels in detail.

  Unlike H.R. 3070, the Substitute:

  • Drops language mandating Shuttle retirement in 2010, leaving the bill silent on the issue;
  • Gives more direction, but no specific funding level for International Space Station research;
  • Includes more funding detail for FY 06 and authorizes funding for FY 07;
  • Endorses the human repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope; and
  • Includes language making it more difficult for NASA to transfer money among accounts.

  Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) offered and withdrew an amendment that would have amended the Iran Non-Proliferation Act (INA) to allow NASA to procure goods and services from Russia for use related to the International Space Station and NASA’s exploration programs.  Such practices are prohibited by current law after the current agreement with Russia is fulfilled next April.  Rohrabacher’s language was identical to a proposed INA amendment that the Administration recently forwarded to Congress.  The Science Committee is working with the Committee on International Relations to address the INA issue.

“The final bill we send to the President must resolve the INA issue,” Boehlert said.  “And I think we will resolve it in a timely fashion – but I have no idea at this point what that resolution will be.  I hope we will be able to move forward on this issue soon.”

Representative Charlie Melancon (D-LA) offered and withdrew an amendment that would have provided NASA greater flexibility in managing the lands it owns.  Chairman Boehlert said he supported the intent of the amendment, but opposed the language at this point because it would have waived laws that are not in the Committee’s jurisdiction.

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) offered and withdrew three amendments that would have: established specific funding allocations for Historically Black Colleges and Universities; established a grant program to encourage minority women to pursue careers in space and aeronautics; and established specific funding allocations for Hispanic Serving Institutions.

By a vote of 18 to 18, the Committee defeated an amendment by Representative Jerry Costello (D-IL) that would have struck language in the Substitute that ensures “Buy American” provisions contained in the bill do not violate international trade agreements.  The language in the Substitute mirrors language the Committee inserted into H.R. 50, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Act, that places a prohibition on outsourcing jobs, but only when such actions are consistent with international treaties or obligations. 

By voice vote, the Committee agreed to an amendment, also by Representative Costello, that requires NASA to issue a report to Congress on the number of its contracts that are performed overseas and the dollar value of such contracts.

H.R. 3070 was approved at Subcommittee by voice vote on June 29.

SpaceRef staff editor.