I wasn’t sure where to post this. I decided to go with White Noise since it used to be a Giz sub-blog.
After months of delay, Congress unveiled its plans for funding the federal government in 2016. Assuming this legislation passes into law without major modifications, NASA will fare extraordinarily well. The space agency is set to receive $19.3 billion—nearly $1.3 billion more than it did last year. This is the same top-line level we proposed back in October. I called it the “everybody wins” scenario.
The article breaks down the different projects and how they are going to be funded. Earth Science will be $1.921B. That’s less than what Obama wanted but an increase of $149 million over last year. NASA was able to secure 1.243B to keep the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Dragon V2 on track for 2017. Other projects discussed were Planetary Science. and the Space Launch System(SLS). Planetary secured 1.631B, an increase of $270 million over what the President requested. This means the MER Opprotuinity rover and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiery will continue science operations. There is $175 million set for a Europea million. SLS got $2B when the President requested 1.36. That money will go to developing NASA’s most powerful rocket since the V2 which will be used for the future Europa mission.
If you’re concerned that this is a pipe dream and won’t pass, the bit at the end should settle your mind.
This bill is referred to as “omnibus” because it mushes together what would have been twelve separate pieces of legislation into a single, 2,000 page epic. Essentially every part of the government that is not Social Security or health care is funded by this omnibus bill. And if this bill can’t get signed into law, the federal government has no money to spend, and the government shuts down. Hence this bill is considered a “must-pass” piece of legislation.
Knowing this, members of Congress attach unrelated policy statements in the bill that, while divisive, are not bad enough to sink the passage of the entire bill. Knowing how many policy riders you can get away with is a fine line to walk, and it was one reasons this bill was in negotiations for so long. Do not be surprised if you read about these policy riders in the next few days. It’s one of the reasons why omnibus legislation is generally a bad idea.
However, the fact that this bill being released to the public and being readied for a vote means that the Congressional leadership believes they have the votes necessary to pass the thing. That’s no guarantee, but better chances than not. The White House has indicated that it will sign the bill as it currently stands.
The vote is not yet scheduled, but it is likely to occur on Thursday or Friday of this week.
I know we dread everytime Congress talks about science and all we see in the media is anti-science talk coming from Washington. But this is positive news and I think it needs to be commended.