Another NASA funding amendment to watch?

The House is continuing to debate hundreds of amendments associated with HR 1, the year-long continuing resolution that would fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011. Among the amendments that have not yet been taken up on the floor of the House is one by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) that would, in effect, defund NASA's exploration program: Amendment No. 96: At the end of the bill, after the short title, insert the following new section: Sec. 4002. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for "National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Exploration". That amendment is taken seriously enough to warrant a bipartisan "Dear Colleague" letter from 14 members of Congress who represent districts or states with NASA centers. The DeFazio amendment "would prohibit NASA, one of the most effective job-generating agencies in the federal government, from spending any money on its exploration program," according to a version of the letter forwarded from a reader yesterday. "By prohibiting funding for NASA's exploration program so late in the operating year, it will result in tens of thousands of lay-offs to on-site contractors across the country, and cause us to cede our world leadership in human space exploration to other countries such as China and Russia." [emphasis in original] The letter's signatories include Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), chairman of the House Science Committee, as well as members whose districts include or are near to Ames, Glenn, Goddard, JPL, Johnson, Kennedy, and Marshall. It's not clear when, or even if, the House will take up the DeFazio amendment. House leaders have indicated they plan to wrap up debate on the bill and vote on it Friday before departing for a week-long break, and there are many other amendments still under consideration. Incidentally, there's another amendment introduced, by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), that states that "None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for the Constellation Systems Program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration." Depending on the current definition of "Constellation Systems", that may be a moot point. [Update 2pm: Neither DeFazio amendment nor the Shuler amendment are on the list of those amendments deemed in order, and thus won't be considered by the full House today (which is still demanding various amendments to the CR).]

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