Congress Likely to Delay NASA Spending Decision

WASHINGTON- Congress isn't expected to make spendingdecisions about NASA until after the upcoming Nov. 2 election,lawmakers saidTuesday.

Lawmakershave been debating thespace agency's futurefor most of the year, after President BarackObama proposed giving the agency an extra $6 billion over five yearsandchanging its priorities.

Onlytwo weeks remain until Congress leaves town for the Nov.2 election, leaving lawmakers little time to charta policyand decide how much to spend. Sen. Bill Nelson,D-Orlando, has been negotiating a new blueprint with Rep. Bart Gordon,D-Tenn.,chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee. [NASA'sNew Direction: FAQ]

Butlawmakers so far have failed to bridge disagreementson how much to spend on commercial space and when to pursue developmentof a heavy-liftrocket.

Rep.Suzanne Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach, who serves onGordon's committee, said it's important to approve a bill that providesanadditional shuttle flight, growth in commercial spaceflight and aNASA-ledrocket. "It is imperative that we move quickly to approve a plan forNASA," she said.

HouseMajority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said thechamber could still debate a NASApolicy billnext week if Gordon and Nelson reach acompromise.

NASAadvocates worry that disputes could jeopardize the $6 billion over five years ?including $278 million more in 2011 ? that Obama has proposed.

HouseRepublicans have begun calling for a return to 2008spending levels and other Republicans have urged a spending freeze nextyear.Both arguments would become more powerful if Republicans take controlof one orboth chambers in the election.

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