Federal Relations

April 28, 2015

House Releases NASA Authorization

The House Science Committee released another two year reauthorization, this time it was for NASA. Chairman Lamar Smith released the NASA Authorization Act for 2016 and 2017 today while also announcing the legislation’s markup for Thursday at 11 am.   The FY2016 and 2017 authorization would make deep cuts to NASA’s earth science program under either of the two funding scenarios laid out in the bill – “aspirational” or “constrained.” Top-line funding for NASA would be the same as the President’s FY2016 budget request ($18.5 billion) under the aspirational level or the same as its current funding ($18.0 billion) under the constrained scenario.  Overall, the bill favors human space exploration, planetary science, and astrophysics.

The funding section is complicated because two budget levels are recommended depending on whether Congress removes the caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA).

The bulk of the 129-page bill is policy provisions that appear to be virtually identical to those passed by the House in February in the 2015 NASA Authorization Act. That bill’s funding recommendations were only for FY2015, which is in progress and reflected what had already been appropriated. This Republican-sponsored bill substitutes funding recommendations for the next two years, FY2016 and FY2017.

In February of this year, the House Science Committee introduced and passed the following day HR 810- the 2015 NASA Authorization Act. It also passed the full House by voice vote. The bill was virtually identical to the FY2014 NASA Authorization Act passed by the House last year by a vote of 401-2.

Click here to read the text of the NASA Authorization Act for 2016 and 2017.