Senate Begins Debate on FY2015 Appropriations Bill for NASA, NOAA, FAA Space Office
The Senate Appropriations Committee says that the Senate will begin consideration of a FY2015 "minibus" appropriations bill today that bundles three regular appropriations bills together: Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS, including NASA and NOAA), Transportation-HUD (T-HUD, including the FAA and its Office of Commercial Space Transportation), and Agriculture. The White House supports the Senate bill, but expressed concerns about certain NASA provisions.
Congress routinely combines several appropriations bills together. When all 12 of the regular appropriations bills are grouped into one it is called an "omnibus" bill. When a smaller number are bundled they are somewhat jokingly referred to as a minibus.
The Senate is using the House CJS appropriations bill, H.R. 4660, as the vehicle for its minibus, inserting its language combining the three Senate bills in place of what the House passed. This "amendment in the nature of a substitute" is posted on the Senate Appropriations Committee's website.
The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on the bill today. The SAP supports the bill overall, but warns against using it to "advance ideological riders, which the President has made clear are unacceptable."
With regard to NASA, the SAP expresses concern about three issues in the version of the bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee:
The SAP does not list any concerns about NOAA's satellite programs or the FAA's space office.
These three bills -- CJS, T-HUD and Agriculture -- also were bundled together for FY2012. The House already has passed its versions of the FY2015 CJS and T-HUD bills and begun consideration of the Agriculture bill, stoking optimism that this may be a rare year when at least some appropriations bills are enacted before the new fiscal year begins on October 1. That is far from guaranteed, of course, but it has been many years since Congress has gotten even this close.
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