Senate Panel Boosts NASA Funding
WASHINGTON ? A U.S. Senate panel has recommended providing $17.45 billion for NASA next year, or about $150 million more than the White House requested.
The money was included in a $54.6 billion spending bill that cleared the Senate Appropriations commerce, justice, science subcommittee on June 26. The bill exceeds the White House request for the affected agencies by nearly $3.2 billion, with most of the additional money going to the Justice Department to fund local law enforcement programs.
The bill also includes $4.2 billion for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ? about $400 million above the White House request. All of the additional money would go to an oceans stewardship initiative.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the subcommittee?s chairman, said the NASA portion of the bill seeks to strike a balance between the agency?s human spaceflight programs ? which are fully funded ? and its science and aeronautics programs.
NASA?s Science Mission Directorate would get $5.66 billion, about $140 million above the request. Within that total, $1.64 billion would go to Earth science, about $130 million more than NASA is seeking.
NASA?s Exploration Systems and Aeronautics Research mission directorates would be funded at their requested levels of $3.9 billion and $554 million, respectively.
Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), the subcommittee?s top Republican, said the bill includes funding for a robotic Moon lander NASA had canceled. A Senate aide said lawmakers added $50 million to NASA?s Lunar Robotics and Precursor program budget so the agency can continue work on the lander, which is managed by the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Mikulski told reporters after the markup session that she still intends to introduce an amendment that would give NASA an additional $1 billion to help make up budget ground lost after the 2003 space shuttle Columbia accident, but has not decided when.
?The NASA amendment will come later on,? she said. ?We?re looking at what are our best options. You have to pick your launch date.?
The full Senate Appropriations Committee is due to take up the bill June 28.
bill introduced in the House of Representatives June 11 provided $17.6 billion
for NASA and $4 billion for NOAA. That bill is due to be taken up by the full
House Appropriations Committee July 11.
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