U.S. Deficit Panel Rejects Plan That Would Hit NASA

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A presidential commission tasked with recommending ways to rein in the nation’s budget deficit failed to reach consensus on a package of fiscal reforms that included deep spending cuts for NASA and other federal agencies.

During a Dec. 3 public meeting of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, 11 of the panel’s 18 members said they would vote in favor of the proposal, leaving it three votes short of the 14-member super-majority needed to send it to the U.S. Congress for consideration.

The proposal, detailed in a 65-page final report released Dec. 1, aimed to trim nearly $4 trillion from the federal deficit over nine years through a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts, including rolling back discretionary spending to 2008 levels in 2013 and limiting subsequent budget growth to half the rate of inflation. The final report was accompanied by a list of $200 billion in “illustrative” spending cuts that included canceling Obama’s $6 billion commercial space transportation initiative to save $1.2 billion in 2015 alone — a proposal that met with protest from commercial space advocates in early November when the list was first released. Rolling back discretionary spending to 2008 levels — as the commission recommended Dec. 1 — would shrink NASA’s budget to $17.3 billion, or about 7.5 percent less than it spent in 2010 and some 15 percent below NASA’s authorized 2013 spending level. NASA Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Robinson told a Senate panel Dec. 1 that such a rollback would constitute a “truly drastic” funding cut.