Congress passes NASA authorization bill

WASHINGTON — Congress has passed NASA’s first authorization bill in more than five years, officially extending operations of the International Space Station and supporting NASA’s Artemis exploration effort.

The House passed by a vote of 243 to 187 on July 28 the “Creation of Useful Semiconductor Production Incentives (CHIPS) and Science Act,” a day after the Senate passed the bill. bill by a vote of 64 to 33. President Biden said he supported the bill and would sign it.

The bill was primarily a way to support domestic semiconductor manufacturing, but part of the bill included NASA licensing legislation. This part, published last week, extends NASA’s authorization to operate the ISS from 2024 to 2030. It also formally authorizes a “Moon to Mars program” which includes the Artemis campaign of lunar missions and possible missions humans on Mars.

The bill will be NASA’s first authorization law to become law since the NASA Transitional Authorization Act of 2017 in March 2017. It is in turn the first NASA authorization law to become law. NASA enacted since 2010. Over the past five years there have been several attempts. to new NASA authorization bills, including versions that have been passed by one branch of Congress but not both.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, who as a senator worked on several NASA authorization bills, welcomed the new bill. “This act shows continued bipartisan support for NASA’s many missions, including our Moon to Mars approach, as well as the extension of U.S. participation on the International Space Station through 2030,” he said in a statement. a statement.

Industry groups have also backed the bill. “It’s encouraging to see Congress prioritizing improvements to NASA’s technology, infrastructure, and workforce in this legislation, while also authorizing key programs, including Artemis, the extension of the ISS, x-plane demonstrators for sustainable aviation, space nuclear systems and a wide range of sciences. missions,” said Eric Fanning, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, in a July 27 statement after the law was passed by the Senate.

“I am thrilled to have helped craft and obtain NASA’s first clearance in five years,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), chairman of the House Space Subcommittee, said in a statement. after the bill is passed by the House. “This bill is a great victory for space policy, the US space program and NASA.”

Nelson, in his statement, thanked several members of Congress from both parties for their work on the NASA portion of the CHIPS and Science Act. However, some of the Republicans he thanked voted against the final bill.

Among them was Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), a high-ranking member of the House Science Committee. In comments to the House, he said he was voting against the bill because of efforts by Senate Democrats, announced only after the bill passed the Senate, to move forward with a bill. separate bill as part of the budget reconciliation process.

“For better or worse – and it’s very clearly for worse – the CHIPS and Science Act has been irrevocably linked to massive tax increases and a reconciliation spending spree,” he said. in his speech, announcing his intention to vote against the bill. , but added that his decision “in no way reflects my feelings about the transformational research policies contained in this bill.”

In the House, 24 Republicans voted for the CHIPS and Science Act, joining all but one House Democrat who voted “present”.

Leave a Comment