WASHINGTON– As the U.S. Senate moved closer to voting on a spending bill that would giveNASA an extra $1.15 billion for 2008, lawmakers rejected an amendment to trim$150 million from the U.S. space agency?s budget to help states prosecutecrimes committed by illegal aliens.
The Senatevoted 70-20 to table the amendment, which was offered by Sen. John Ensign(R-Nev.) during floor debate Oct. 16 on the Commerce, Justice, Science spendingbill.
Sen.Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations commerce,justice, science subcommittee, led the opposition to the Ensign amendment,warning colleagues that trimming NASA?s budget would further lengthen analready nearly five-year gap between retiring the space shuttle and fieldingits replacement, the OrionCrew Exploration Vehicle and its Ares I launcher. She was joined by hersubcommittee co-chair, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and Sens. Kay BaileyHutchison (R-Texas) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) in speaking against the amendment.
The 2008Commerce, Justice, Science spending bill includes $17.5 billion in regularfunds for NASA and $1 billion in so-called emergency money that lawmakers addedat the prodding of Mikulski, Hutchison, Nelson, Shelby and others to help NASArecover financially from the 2003space shuttle Columbia accident.
A vote onthe spending bill was expected late Oct. 17, setting the stage for alegislative conference with the House of Representatives, which passed arelated spending bill this summer that did not include extra emergency fundingfor NASA.
The WhiteHouse has threatened to veto the Commerce, Justice, Science spending bill ifthe Congress sends the bill forward with more funding than President George W.Bush requested. The Senate version of the bill, which funds several differentagencies, exceeds Bush?s request by over $3 billion, not including the $1billion in emergency NASA money.
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