House Appropriators Propose $103M NASA Budget Cut

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UPDATED Feb. 11

WASHINGTON — NASA’s budget would drop at least $103 million this year if Congress adopts spending cuts proposed by the House Appropriations Committee.

NASA, like the rest of the federal government, has been operating since October under a stopgap spending measure that expires March 4. For NASA, the stopgap measure — known as a continuing resolution — has meant making do with the $18.724 billion Congress appropriated for 2010.

House appropriators intend to introduce a new continuing resolution soon that would fund the government through the end of September. Among the $74 billion in cuts outlined Feb. 9  is a $379 million reduction to NASA’s proposed $19 billion budget for 2011. If enacted, that would leave NASA funded at $18.621 billion, or $103 million below the agency’s 2010 level.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) on Feb. 10 pledged to find another $26 billion in cuts before formally introducing a bill. His pledged followed complaints from within his party that the committee had not gone far enough to roll back spending.

“After meeting with my subcommittee Chairs, we have determined that the CR can and will reach a total of $100 billion in cuts compared to the President’s request immediately — fully meeting the goal outlined in the Republican ‘Pledge to America’ in one fell swoop,” Rogers said in a statement. “Our intent is to make deep but manageable cuts in nearly every area of government, leaving no stone unturned and allowing no agency or program to be held sacred. I have instructed my committee to include these deeper cuts, and we are continuing to work to complete this critical legislation.”

The cuts already outlined by the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee could have a hard time making it through the Democrat-controlled Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Feb. 4 wrote President Barack Obama urging him to exempt NASA from the three-year spending freeze the president outlined last month in his State of the Union address.

“As we approach the rollout of your [fiscal year] 2012 budget request, I look forward to a plan that is consistent with the NASA Authorization Act of 2010,” Reid wrote.

The NASA Authorization Act, which Obama signed into law in October, calls for funding NASA at $19.45 billion in 2012.

Obama is due to unveil his 2012 budget proposal Feb. 14.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and the agency’s chief financial officer, Elizabeth Robinson, are scheduled to brief reporters here that afternoon on the NASA portion of the president’s 2012 proposal.

Bolden’s budget briefing will be broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency’s website, NASA announced Feb. 10.