Ted Cruz speaking to Tea Party Express supporters at a rally in Austin, Texas. Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Longtime Washington space policy wonk Marcia Smith offers a little reality check for those who fret that the assignment of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to chair the Senate Commerce science and space subcommittee is a death knell for NASA’s climate change research activities.

She points out that while Cruz’s subcommittee can set policy and recommend funding levels for NASA programs, the authority to actually fund these activities rests primarily with Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, respectively.

“Both are NASA advocates and Mikulski is particularly supportive of NASA earth science programs and NOAA’s weather satellites.  Even though she is in the minority now, she still is very powerful and it is difficult to imagine a Senate appropriations bill that includes disproportionate cuts to either of those programs.”

Smith also writes that while Cruz in theory could author a policy bill that heavily restricts NASA’s climate research activities, such a measure is unlikely to make it to the president’s desk and even less likely to be signed into law.

Smith’s full story can be found here.

Warren Ferster is the Editor-in-Chief of SpaceNews and is responsible for all the news and editorial coverage in the weekly newspaper, the spacenews.com Web site and variety of specialty publications such as show dailies. He manages a staff of seven reporters...