House passes NASA authorization bill

WASHINGTON — For the primary time in practically six and a half years, Congress has handed a NASA authorization invoice with the approval of such a invoice March 7 within the Home of Representatives.

The Home accepted on a voice vote the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017, S.442, after a quick dialogue on the Home ground the place no members spoke towards the invoice. The identical invoice handed the Senate by unanimous consent Feb. 17.

The invoice authorizes $19.5 billion in spending for NASA in fiscal 12 months 2017. Extra importantly, it consists of numerous coverage provisions directing NASA’s actions. They vary from improvement of an in depth plan for NASA’s human exploration applications, with the long-term objective of sending people to Mars, to giving NASA the power to ascertain long-term medical monitoring of former astronauts.

“This bipartisan and bicameral invoice grew to maturity via many lengthy and critical discussions about the way forward for our nation’s area program,” stated Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), chairman of the Home area subcommittee, throughout dialogue concerning the invoice on the Home ground. “I’m inspired by the invoice’s persistent emphasis on the continuity of goal and stability.”

The invoice is almost similar to a invoice the Senate handed in December, simply after the Home adjourned for the 12 months. The brand new model features a few provisions not discovered within the earlier one, together with language directing NASA to review using the Orion spacecraft as a crew switch car for the Worldwide House Station as a stopgap if business crew automobiles endure further delays.

Whereas the invoice had broad assist, some members highlighted areas of concern that will turn into points in later laws. “It isn’t an ideal invoice,” stated Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), rating member of the Home Science Committee. “It doesn’t immediately tackle all of NASA’s science applications, primarily Earth science and heliophysics.” She stated she was additionally vital of licensed funding ranges for NASA’s science, aeronautics and area know-how accounts, however added she supported the invoice total.

“The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 reaffirms our assist for the daring visions and commitments that may form America’s future in area,” Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the Home Science Committee, stated in an announcement after the invoice’s passage. “This invoice reiterates the significance of sustaining NASA’s continuity of goal to make sure America stays a frontrunner in area exploration.”

The invoice is the primary NASA authorization to move each homes of Congress because the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, which the Home handed in September 2010 practically two months after it cleared the Senate. The Home labored on a number of authorization payments in subsequent years, together with some which handed the complete Home, however none made it via the Senate.

This invoice had a easy trip via the Home and Senate due to work behind the scenes to deal with points earlier than the invoice was launched within the Senate final month. In a January interview, Smith stated he and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Senate area subcommittee, had been working to “pre-conference” the invoice to resolve any issues earlier than its introduction, permitting for a streamlined passage via each Homes. The invoice additionally has the assist of the White Home, in response to congressional sources.

The area business welcomed the invoice’s passage. “Right this moment’s approval of the NASA Transition Authorization Act by Congress sends a transparent message to the American individuals and our worldwide companions that our nation stays dedicated to NASA’s area exploration program,” Mary Lynne Dittmar, government director of the Coalition of Deep House Exploration, stated in a March 7 assertion.

Dittmar cited the assist the 2010 authorization invoice supplied for human exploration applications, such because the House Launch System and Orion, in addition to area science applications. “This new authorization will present the framework for continued progress in direction of these nationwide commitments,” she stated.

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