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House Passes NASA Authorization Bill

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Saturday, December 17, 2005

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Senate Expected to Approve Measure Before Recessing  

WASHINGTON - A bill to reauthorize the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was passed by the House of Representatives today.  The Senate is expected to approve the measure later this month and the President is expected to sign it into law.

By voice vote, the House approved the conference report for S. 1281, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005.  The final version of the bill includes most of the provisions from both the House and Senate bills.  The bill directs NASA to carry out programs in human space flight, aeronautics, space science, earth science and microgravity research, and it endorses President Bush's Vision for Space Exploration.  The bill authorizes about $17.9 billion for NASA in fiscal year 2007 and about $18.7 billion in fiscal year 2008 - significantly more than provided for the outyears in the Administration's fiscal year 2006 budget request.

House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), the lead House conferee, said, "This bill will give the agency clear guidance, while giving Congress important new tools for oversight at this pivotal time.  Most important, I believe, this bill, in its very first section, makes clear that NASA is to remain a multi-mission agency with robust programs in science and aeronautics, even as it moves ahead with the President's Vision for Space Exploration.  And the bill also provides a clear and unequivocal endorsement of that Vision."  The full text of Chairman's Boehlert's floor speech is appended to this release.

Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA), lead sponsor of the House bill, said, "The NASA Authorization Act of 2005 is forward-looking legislation that will help NASA excel during the Second Space Age.  I believe that investing in NASA is an investment in our nation's future.  Even in this time of budget deficits, the United States cannot abandon NASA's research and technology, and exploration programs - it is not in the American spirit to shy away from this investment in our global leadership.  This bill continues our legacy as a leader in space exploration and technology advancements.  I wish to thank Chairman Boehlert, Chairman Stevens, Chairman Hutchison, and all the conferees for their commitment and work."

In addition to Boehlert and Calvert, the Republican House Conferees on the bill were Reps. Tom DeLay (R-TX), Ralph Hall (R-TX), and Lamar Smith (R-TX).  Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) and Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) served as conferees on specific sections of the bill.

"This conference report sets NASA's course by relying on the NASA family to accomplish the clear, ambitious, and defined vision laid out by President Bush," said Rep. DeLay.  "That course will not only make good on President Bush's Vision for Space Exploration, it will make good on the brave and brilliant capabilities of the men and women of America's space program."

DeLay added, "I am honored to serve the men and women of NASA who have devoted their lives to America's space program, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to provide them the proper tools needed to accomplish NASA's mission.  America's space program is on a roll, and we must continue to build upon its momentum."

Rep. Hall said, "This is a well-balanced bill, and I commend my colleagues and their staff for crafting such a fine piece of legislation.  The bill outlines the broad goals of the Vision for Space Exploration, and bolsters other vital NASA programs in science and aeronautics that keep America competitive globally.  I am particularly pleased that the bill includes my provision that directs Administrator Griffin to develop a Crew Exploration Vehicle with a robust crew escape system." 

"This NASA Authorization Act ensures America's continued global leadership in space exploration," said Rep. Smith.  "This bill is an investment in our future.  It provides NASA with the technology and resources to take us back to the moon and beyond. Almost two years ago the President announced a new Vision for Space Exploration.  This NASA Authorization Act shows Congress' dedication providing NASA with the tools it needs to carry out this Vision." 

Major provisions of the bill include:

  • Directs NASA to carry out programs in human space flight, aeronautics, space science, earth science and microgravity research.
  • Endorses the President's Vision for Space Exploration.
  • Changes NASA's budget structure to separate funding for human space flight and NASA's science, aeronautics and education activities.
  • Authorizes about $17.9 billion for NASA in fiscal year 2007 and about $18.7 billion in fiscal year 2008 - significantly more than provided for the outyears in the Administration's fiscal year 2006 budget request.
  • Requires that at least 15 percent of the spending for the International Space Station (ISS) be used for microgravity research not related to exploration programs.
  • Enables NASA to carry out a prize program.
  • Puts in new reporting requirements and cost controls, modeled on the Nunn-McCurdy controls that apply to the Department of Defense, that would require Congressional action if cost overruns on a project exceed set levels.
  • Requires multi-year plans for aeronautics, science, facilities and workforce, and prevents layoffs (Reductions in Force) before March 16, 2007.
  • Endorses a Shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope if it can be accomplished safely.
  • Designates the U.S. portion of the ISS as a "national laboratory."
  • Provides guidance for the transition from the Space Shuttle to the Crew Exploration Vehicle.
  • Requires the National Academy of Sciences to review NASA's K-12 education programs.
  • Establishes procedures for the appointment of a Presidential Commission in the event of the loss of a Shuttle or other manned vehicle.

  The House and Senate had passed differing versions of the bills (H.R. 3070/S.1281) this summer and fall.  House and Senate conferees reached final agreement on the compromise legislation on Thursday.

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