Headlines > News > Conference Agreement Reached on NASA authorization bill

Conference Agreement Reached on NASA authorization bill

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Sat Dec 17, 2005 5:02 pm
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Press Release; The House Science Committee and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation reached agreement thursday on a bill to reauthorize the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The House and Senate had passed differing versions of the bills (H.R. 3070/S.1281) this summer and fall. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) chaired the conference Committee, which approved the agreement today. The conference report will be filed Friday morning and passage is expected in both bodies on Friday and Saturday. The President is expected to sign the bill.

The final version of the bill includes most of the provisions from both the House and Senate bills. The bill directs NASA to carry out programs in human space flight, aeronautics, space science, earth science and microgravity research, and it endorses President Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration. The bill authorizes about $17.9 billion for NASA in fiscal year 2007 and about $18.7 billion in fiscal year 2008 – significantly more than provided for the outyears in the Administration’s fiscal year 2006 budget request.

House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), the lead House conferee, said, “This bill is a true compromise, and it shows what we can accomplish when everyone is willing to work together. Most importantly, the bill makes clear that NASA is to be a multi-mission agency with robust programs in science and aeronautics as well as in exploration. The bill also underscores that NASA cannot carry out all the tasks currently on its plate without significantly more money. We will have to review NASA’s programs in the light of the fiscal 2007 budget request, but this bill sets out the minimum needed to carry out NASA’s current plans.”

Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA), lead sponsor of the House bill, said, “The NASA Authorization Act conference report is forward-looking legislation that will help NASA excel during the Second Space Age. I believe that investing in NASA is an investment in our nation’s future. Even in this time of budget deficits, the United States cannot abandon NASA’s research and technology, and exploration programs – it is not in the American spirit to shy away from this investment in our global leadership. This report continues our legacy as a leader in space exploration and technology advancements. I wish to thank Chairman Boehlert, Chairman Stevens, Chairman Hutchison, and all the conferees for their commitment and work.”

In addition to Boehlert and Calvert, the Republican House Conferees on the bill were Reps. Tom DeLay (R-TX), Ralph Hall (R-TX), and Lamar Smith (R-TX). Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) and Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) served as conferees on specific sections of the bill.

Major provisions of the bill include:

  • Directs NASA to carry out programs in human space flight, aeronautics, space science, earth science and microgravity research.
  • Endorses the President’s Vision for Space Exploration.
  • Changes NASA’s budget structure to separate funding for human space flight and NASA’s science, aeronautics and education activities.
  • Authorizes about $17.9 billion for NASA in fiscal year 2007 and about $18.7 billion in fiscal year 2008 – significantly more than provided for the outyears in the Administration’s fiscal year 2006 budget request.
  • Requires that at least 15 percent of the spending for the International Space Station (ISS) be used for microgravity research not related to exploration programs.
  • Enables NASA to carry out a prize program.
  • Puts in new reporting requirements and cost controls, modeled on the Nunn-McCurdy controls that apply to the Department of Defense, that would require Congressional action if cost overruns on a project exceed set levels.
  • Requires multi-year plans for aeronautics, science, facilities and workforce, and prevents layoffs (Reductions in Force) before March 16, 2007.
  • Endorses a Shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope if it can be accomplished safely.
  • Designates the U.S. portion of the ISS as a “national laboratory.”
  • Provides guidance for the transition from the Space Shuttle to the Crew Exploration Vehicle.
  • Requires the National Academy of Sciences to review NASA’s K-12 education programs.
  • Establishes procedures for the appointment of a Presidential Commission in the event of the loss of a Shuttle or other manned vehicle.
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