The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a spending bill the week of Oct. 15 that would give NASA an extra $1 billion in emergency funding to help the space agency recover financially from the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident. The money was added Oct. 4 as an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill that already included $17.5 billion for NASA, $150 million more than the White House is seeking.

The $1 billion amendment was introduced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) with the support of 10 co-sponsors, including Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). It was added to the bill by voice vote the afternoon of Oct. 4. The Senate is in recess the week of Oct. 8.

“It became clear today as the votes were counted there was very strong support for the amendment, so, rather than take the time to vote, the Senate approved it by voice vote,” a congressional aide said. “That brings us almost to the officially authorized level. No one thought we’d get close to that this year.”

The House version included $17.6 billion for NASA but no emergency funding provision.

The House and Senate have to resolve the differences in the bills before sending the legislation to President George W. Bush, who has threatened to veto the package for exceeding his budget request by more than $2 billion.