US Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) gives introductory remarks during an event where President Barack Obama outlined a bold new course the administration is charting to maintain U.S. leadership in human space flight at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Thursday, April 15, 2010. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee included $17.011 million for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST) in a 2014 spending bill approved June 27. The move sets the stage for a showdown with the House Appropriations Committee, which approved a competing bill the same day that would fund AST at $14.16 million, less than the office received for 2012 and 2013.

Neither House nor Senate appropriators have gotten to their Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bills, which fund NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but are expected to do so some time in July. The gaps between the House and Senate bills for FAA suggest there may be similar gaps between the House and Senate CJS bills, including for NASA. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has suggested that the $16.8 billion House members included in a draft NASA authorization bill for 2014 is far too low, and indicated that not only would the Senate version of the authorization bill give NASA more, but that Senate appropriators would also follow suit.

The potential for that gap can be seen in the budget allocations given to the two CJS appropriations subcommittees, in effect the pots of money they have to spend. The House CJS allocation, released in May, is $47.2 billion, while the Senate CJS allocation, released at the end of June, is nearly $52.3 billion. 

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