In a somewhat of a symbolic move, the Senate has passed a NASA authorization bill on December 9th. The bill will not have any effect since it will not become law this year. However, it may serve as a precedent for another bill next year, which will have the intended effect.
More specifically, the Senate has passed through a unanimous vote a newly amended version of S. 3346, or how its more commonly known, the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017. The recent bill is just an amended version of the same bill which was passed in September by the Senate Commerce Committee after extensive discussions with various members of the House of Representatives.
The bill would authorize $19.5 billion in funds for NASA for the fiscal year of 2017. The bill also included various policy provisions such as developing a transition plan for future operation of the ISS, issuing a report about how efficient NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission is, as well as creating a framework for future space exploration up to the Mars missions.
Unfortunately for its sponsors, the bill won’t become law this year as the House passed the final bills of the 114th Congress into law on December 8th, and finalized their work for the rest of the year. Nonetheless, the supports of the NASA authorization bill see its passing as a small victory as it sets the stage for passing similar legislation next year when the 115th Congress starts work in January.
Senator Ted Cruz, the former presidential candidate, was the bill’s main sponsor and emphasized the importance of passing such important legislation meant to provide NASA with stability during its transition to a new administration. He also expressed his intent of working with his future colleagues in both chambers to pass a similar bill again.
The recent bill was passed together with other legislative projects after they approved a continuing resolution which funds the federal government until April 28, 2017. The resolution gives NASA a certain flexibility in spending money at higher levels on the heavy-lift rocket for the Space Launch System, the Orion mission, and its associated ground systems.
What do you think about the recently passed NASA Authorization Act?
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