Senate proposes $18.5B CR for NASA, takes aim at space technology

The Senate Appropriations Committee released on Friday highlights of its proposed continuing resolution (CR) for the remainder of FY2011, a response to the House version, HR 1, that passed last month. Under the Senate bill NASA would get $18.539 billion, $461 million less than the $19 billion requested by the administration over a year ago and later authorized by Congress in the NASA authorization act. That amount, though, is $412 million more than what the House provided for NASA in HR 1, the release notes ($298 million of the difference is the amendment approved by the House to transfer money from NASA's Cross Agency Support account to a community policing program within the Justice Department.) Breakdowns by account are not included in the release, although it appears that space technology will bear the brunt of the Senate's proposed cut. "At this level, NASA will not be provided any funds for requested but new long-range space technology research activities that have the potential to lead to new discoveries and new technologies that could improve life on Earth," the committee release notes. A separate release by the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) subcommittee also states that the proposed CR "Does not provide for requested, but new, long-range space technology research activities." The administration had requested $572.2 million for Space Technology in its original FY11 budget request and the authorization act approved $350 million for Space Technology. Other key NASA programs would not be as adversely affected by the Senate's proposal. The CJS subcommittee release states that the budget "Preserves NASA portfolio balanced among science, aeronautics, technology and human space flight investments, holding NASA's feet to the fire to build the Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle and the heavy lift Space Launch System." And the full committee release, apparently referring to funding for Cross Agency Support, notes that it avoids cuts "that would disrupt ongoing science missions and cause layoffs of 4,500 middle class contractors who provide landscaping, IT, janitorial, and other services for NASA centers." Janitors, yes; gamechanging technology, not so much.

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