Wednesday, February 21, 2007

No new money for NASA in the 07 Budget

Because the Republican congress failed to do their job last year and didn't pass the 07 budget, the new congress was forced to deal with that on top of the 08 budget (not to mention learning how to be in charge again, hiring new staff, moving offices, welcoming new members, oh, and there's that whole Iraq War thing happening). So, they decided to punt - rather than carefully considering, debating and passing the budgets from the various approprations committees, or even rolling them together and passing one massive "omnibus" budget bill, they decided to extend the continuing resolution through the end of the year so they can focus on next year's budget. This basically continues the 2006 budget through 2007, which in theory isn't so bad, everybody loses out on inflationary increases, but otherwise it maintains the status quo. The problem is that NASA and NSF and NIST and many other science agencies were due for big increases this year, NASA for the Vision and the rest due to the whole compettitiveness inititive.

Congress had said that they were going to "allow some flexibility" where it was needed, giving us a little hope, and in fact, NSF and NIST both got small increases over the '06 numbers ($335M and $50M, respectively), but unfortunatly, NASA got nothing.

Senator Mikulski said in her press release that it was unfortunate, but it was the best they could do:

“While I would have liked to have increased funding for NASA, there was simply not enough extra funding available for us to do so. Within the limits of NASA’s FY 06 operating plan, we added an extra $460 million to exploration while protecting other critical NASA programs in science and aeronautics. With only seven months left in this fiscal year, I believe NASA will be able to manage their programs in exploration with minimal impact to the overall schedule.

It's going to be a tough year for NASA, and frankly, the '08 budget is not looking that much better.

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