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 — U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) intends to introduce a NASA authorization bill July 17 that will recommend spending $18 billion on the U.S. space agency next year — a level that mirrors the amount Senate appropriators included in a spending bill headed for full committee markup July 18.

Speaking at the Future Space Leaders’ Future Space 2013 conference here, the chairman of the Senate Commerce science and space subcommittee blasted his House counterparts for advancing a NASA authorization bill that would be “absolutely lethal” to a balanced space program. 

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee is slated to mark up a NASA authorization bill July 18 that would hold the agency’s budget to $16.86 billion — the lowest level since 2007. The House Appropriations Committee, meanwhile, approved a commerce, justice, science spending bill July 17 that would fund NASA at $16.6 billion for the 2014 budget year that begins Oct. 1.

Warren Ferster contributed to this story from Washington.


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Brian Berger is editor in chief of and the SpaceNews magazine. He joined in 1998, spending his first decade with the publication covering NASA. His reporting on the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident was...