July 10, 2006
Over the next several weeks, Sen. Mikulski and Sen. Hutchison of the Senate Appropriations Committee will offer an amendment to the FY07 NASA budget to pay back NASA for the costs of returning the Space Shuttle to flight. NASA has estimated the return to flight costs at just over $2 billion so far. This will be accomplished during the next two years with one billion made availaible in the FY07.
The amendment they will offer in Committee will provide $1 billion to the NASA Administrator to pay-back the costs of returning the Shuttle to flight and restore cuts to science, aeronautics and exploration programs that were cut in order to pay for the return to flight. The $1 billion will be declared an emergency under the terms of the budget act and budget resolution. The amendment will not specify how much goes to each program. Rather, it gives the entire amount to the Administrator to be used at his discretion with authority to transfer funding to other programs. The report language will make it clear that in allocating the funding, the Administrator shall give priority to programs that were cut in order to pay for the return to flight. The goal is that by stretching the $2 billion out over two years, the Senators are hoping that it will be an incentive for the Administration to include the extra funding in their 08 budget. If the FY 08 budget does not include the additional $1 billion, then Sen. Mikulski and Sen. Hutchison will offer another amendment next year in Committee to fully reimburse the agency.
AURA has sent a letter of support to Senator Mikulski
and an identical letter of support to Senator Hutchinson. AURA Budget Analysis