Pre-markup roundup

At 10 am this morning the Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to take up its version of NASA authorization legislation, one of four bills that will be marked up during the meeting. "We expect to be able to pass the NASA bill tomorrow," Sen. Bill Nelson, chairman of the committee's space subcommittee and a primary author of the legislation, said in a brief podcast Wednesday. "The White House will announce their support for our bill tomorrow, and that is extremely important to us, because that's going to enable us to keep moving the ball forward and being able to have NASA continue a vigorous path of human exploration of the cosmos." In fact, the White House is already hinting that it would support at least the general outlines of the Senate authorization bill. The Orlando Sentinel and Houston Chronicle quote an unnamed administration official who favors the legislation. "While we are still in the process of reviewing the details of the draft, the bill appears to contain the critical elements necessary for achieving the President's vision for NASA and represents an important first step towards helping us achieve the key goals the President has laid out," the official tells the Chronicle (with an identical quote in the Sentinel). In Florida, though, the reaction is less positive. In a letter to Sen. Nelson, the leaders of the Space Coast's Economic Development Commission (EDC) complained that the bill appeared to favor other states over Florida by trimming funds for KSC spaceport development and commercial crew transportation. "The risk that this future may be bargained away for one more attuned to the needs of Alabama, Texas and Utah, in the name of political expediency, demands a response," they wrote, Florida Today reports. However, in an editorial, the Sentinel endorses the bill as a reasonable compromise. The concerns identified by the EDC are real, they admit, but "compare these shortcomings with the status quo – which includes no money for upgrading the space center and no increase in commercial launch funding – and Mr. Nelson's plan is clearly preferable."

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