A prominent senator has stated that he will strive to support NASA goals such as the Artemis lunar exploration mission through both traditional appropriations and a multitrillion-dollar budget reconciliation plan. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), who is a ranking member of the subcommittee that deals with commerce, justice, and science (CJS) appropriations, stated the continued attempts to pass the budget reconciliation package including a separate infrastructure program will alter the traditional annual appropriations approach in a speech at 36th Space Symposium here on August 24.
The problem, he explained, is that instead of appropriations committees, authorizing committees will be in charge of the budget reconciliation package. That implies the Senate Commerce Committee will play a role in any NASA spending included in the package, like as NASA Administrator Bill Nelson’s proposals for Human Landing System and $10 billion in infrastructure enhancements at NASA centres.
Moran did point out, however, that he is a member of the Commerce Committee, so any financing requests for NASA might be influenced by him. “I will have two chances to help us achieve our aims as an authorizer and an appropriator under reconciliation,” Moran noted in an interview following his speech that the Commerce Committee is still figuring out how to design the reconciliation measure. He stated, “We’re in new terrain.” Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the Commerce Committee’s ranking member, has requested Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the committee’s chair, to use “a committee process” to provide comments on the measure.
Moran as well as other appropriators are focusing on their financial year 2022 spending legislation while the reconciliation bill is being produced. In his remarks, he predicted that the CJS subcommittee will mark up its bill in late September. He did not indicate how much money the Senate appropriators will set aside for NASA. NASA received $25.04 billion in a House draft of the financial year 2022 CJS appropriations plan, approximately $240 million more than the administration proposed.
Senate appropriators, according to Moran, are still waiting for appropriations for every subcommittee. Appropriators would be able to decide specific budget sums for NASA and many other agencies covered in the CJS bill after those allocations are completed. “NASA will become a priority,” he said, “but we won’t be able to put numbers on it until we understand what our allocation is.”
Moran said the CJS bill will be formed in a bipartisan way, as it has been in previous years, in collaboration with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), chair of this subcommittee. He stated, “I assure you that the overarching goal of the balanced space plan that accelerates Artemis and also science, aeronautics, as well as STEM education will remain the same.”