NASA Faces More Budget Cuts in Last-Minute Spending Package

NASA administrator Charlie Bolden at NASA's Fiscal Year 2012 budget briefing on Monday, Feb. 14, 2011 at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
NASA administrator Charlie Bolden at NASA's Fiscal Year 2012 budget briefing on Monday, Feb. 14, 2011 at NASA Headquarters in Washington. (Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON — NASA stands to lose an additional $325 million under the omnibus spending package headed to the U.S. Senate for a final vote.

A disaster relief bill the House approved Dec. 16 along with the 2012 Final Consolidated Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2055) includes a 1.83 percent across-the-board cut for all nondefense related discretionary spending, including NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a number of other federal agencies previously funded in the so-called minibus spending bill Congress enacted in November. The across-the-board cut, or rescission, is crafted to pay for some $8 billion in disaster relief spending.

"The rescission does apply to us," NASA spokesman Michael Cabbage said Dec. 16. “We estimate the cut would take us to around $17.4 billion.”

The minibus included $17.8 billion for NASA, or about $650 million less than the agency received for 2011.

The rescission would put NASA’s 2012 budget more than $1.2 billion below what the agency requested back in February when President Barack Obama submitted his spending plan to Congress.

NOAA, which stood to receive $4.9 billion from the minibus adopted in November, would get only $4.8 billion if the rescission becomes law.

The spending agreement the House and Senate reached Dec. 15 was necessary to avert a government shutdown. The federal government has been operating since the new fiscal year began Oct. 1 under a series of stopgap spending measures, the latest of which expires Dec. 16.

The House approved the $1 trillion omnibus package the afternoon of Dec. 16 by a vote of 296 to 121. The disaster relief funding and 1.83 percent rescission were approved as seperate measures.

The Senate was expected to take up the omnibus later that evening or the next day. It was not immediately clear whether the Senate would also approve the disaster relief package.

A summary of the conference report accompanying H.R. 2055 can be read here.

This story was provided by Space News, dedicated to covering all aspects of the space industry.

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Editor, ExchangeMonitor

Dan Leone is an editor and reporter for the ExchangeMonitor Publications covering the Department of Energy and Department of Defense nuclear weapons programs. From 2011 to 2016, Dan was the NASA reporter for the space industry publication SpaceNews, where he covered U.S. space agency policy, news and missions. He also produced the SpaceGeeks podcast showcasing interviews with space industry professionals. Dan earned a bachelor's degree in public communications from American University. You can find his latest project on Twitter at @leone_exm.