Spacelift Washington: House, Senate nears agreement on budget resolution

Spacelift Washington
Spacelift Washington Archive

WASHINTON – House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) have agreed in principle to a two-week extension of the fiscal year 2001 federal budget, Congressional sources indicate. The extension will come in the form of a Continuing Resolution (CR) that will cover the period from October 1st through close of business October 16th, and will allow non-defense spending to continue at 2001 budget levels. Defense and educational spending will not be included, and are expected to be the subject of passage of separate FY2002 budget bills this week. The 2001 fiscal year ends Monday morning October 1st at 12:01 am. Technically, the federal government would run out of spending authority at that hour without some form of Congressional action. Some 13 spending bills representing the entire 2002 fiscal year budget remain locked up in Congress, and a House-Senate Conference Committee has yet to address such spending issues as reconciliation of the different versions of the VA, HUD and Independent Agencies budgets, which include NASA spending.

The House added more than $400 million to the administration's NASA budget request when it acted this spring, and the Senate added a smaller amount, about $50 million as well. Congressional sources indicate that NASA might well end up with much of the House numbers, a fact thought unlikely before the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks in New York City and Arlington, Virginia. In the aftermath of the attacks, Congress appears willing to spend the federal surplus originally considered sacrosanct. Whether they will spend some of it on civil space needs remains to be seen. Sources in Congress also suggest that a second CR, taking the budget to the end of October, is a strong possibility. Of course, October 31st is a traditional day of "tricks or treats", isn't it?


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