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Romney Veep Choice Paul Ryan Voted Against Last Two NASA Authorization Bills

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 11-Aug-2012
Updated: 11-Aug-2012 11:21 PM

Presumptive Republican presidental candidate Mitt Romney picked Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his Vice Presidential running mate today.   Although voting records tell an incomplete tale, Ryan did vote against both the 2008 and 2010 NASA Authorization Acts.

Ryan became a Member of the House in 1999 at the age of 28.   Five major pieces of legislation specifically affecting civil and commercial space policy have passed since then.  Four were NASA authorization acts (2000, 2005, 2008 and 2010) and one was the Commercial Space Launch Act amendments in 2004 that set up the current regulatory framework for commercial human spaceflight.

Ryan voted aye on the 2000 NASA Authorization Act (P.L. 106-391) when it passed the House in his first months in office in 1999 during a period when the House was under Republican control.  The bill passed 259-168.

There was no recorded vote on the 2005 NASA authorization bill (P. L. 109-155).  This bill generally endorsed President Bush's Vision for Space Exploration at a time when the House and Senate were under Republican control.

The 2008 NASA authorization bill (P.L. 110-422) was similar to the 2005 bill, but passed when the House and Senate were under Democratic control.   It passed 409-15 and Ryan was one of the 15 who voted against it.

The 2010 NASA authorization bill (P.L. 111-267) also passed under Democratic control, but by a smaller margin, 304-118.   The bill was quite controversial in the House and opposition to its passage was led by the Democratic chairwoman of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), wife of then-NASA astronaut Mark Kelly.  She and Ryan were among the 118 House members who voted nay.

As for the 2004 Commercial Space Launch Act Amendments (P.L. 105-492), which passed under Republican control, Ryan voted aye.  The bill passed 264-120.

Overall, this voting record may say more about his preference to vote with the Republican leadership than about his opinions on the space program, although the 2008 vote, where he was one of only 15 nay votes, might suggest a policy clash.  He apparently did not speak on the bill during floor debate based on a quick examination of the Congressional Record.

Today, Ryan is chairman of the House Budget Committee and determined to reduce the deficit.  The House adopted his budget plan earlier this year.  As reported by SpacePolicyOnline.com in March. his budget would cut more from the budget functions that include NASA and NOAA than President Obama's FY2013 budget request, but that does not necessarily mean it would cut more from NASA or NOAA.  The budget functions group together a number of agencies or parts of agencies, so it is not possible to determine from that budget what amounts would be provided to any of them specifically.   That would be determined later through appropriations committee action.


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