Trump signs NASA authorization


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President Trump today signed the NASA authorization bill, initially written and sponsored by Senator Ted Cruz.

The most significant aspect of this authorization is what is not in it. The bill outlines what Congress wants NASA to focus on, and makes literally no mention of any Earth science research at all. Essentially, it tasks NASA to focus on space exploration, and space exploration only.

In many ways this is merely a symbolic act, since it is the budget that really determines what NASA will do, and the budget that Trump put forth last week only cut NASA’s Earth science budget by 5%. Nonetheless, the authorization bill gives us a sense of where the politics are heading. I expect that by the time Congress gets done with NASA’s budget there will be more cuts to that Earth science budget.

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5 comments

  • LocalFluff

    Is there any disagreement among the Republicans about the cuts in these “discretionary items”, including NASA and much more, in order to finance the military? I haven’t heard of any calls to cut NASA, more than its environmentalist part (of about $3B, 15%), other than maybe some libertarian, but Ron Paul is retired now and his son is quite more selective with proposing logical moral libertarianism.

    $3B being transferred within NASA’s budget from environmentalism to human space flight could be enough to finance human exploration of the Moon in the early 2020s, even if using the SLS a couple of times for political reasons to save face for stakeholders.

    A political taboo has disappeared (climatewhatever). Great resources of society have thus been released for good use.

  • wayne

    LocalFluff–
    Big disagreement between conservatives & republican party crony rino’s, over discretionary items.
    And I might add– something like 50+% of the Budget is non-discretionary, automatic spending.
    (and it comes off massive base-amount spending increases that were baked into the Budget 2010-2012 or so.)

    For a (relatively) quick $4 billion cut– cancel out the Lifeline Program (free cell-phones) aka Obama-phones.
    Started at $400 million in 2010 & went to $4 billion by 2015. (partially funded by outrageous land-line telephone-taxes that can amount to 25%, but primarily funded by general-revenue.)

  • LocalFluff

    If Cruz, Bush or Rubio had become president with the same majorities in Congress, would the Republicans still have been unable to enact their own politics? This hurts the republicans, not only Trump. Oh, I suppose that they are just pretending, looking for their moment in the eye of the camera (Rand Paul has succeeded with that I think, and he did get Trump to rally in Kentucky yesterday, for whatever good Rand Paul thinks that does him). Obamacare half-repeal and the half-tax reform will go half-through when the dead line is reached, and this hurly burly is done, when the battle is lost and won.

    Trump’s motto is: Win win win.
    Win-win is an old and popular strategy, because then there’s a win for both players and no one needs to be happy about the result. That’s no real win, actually that is the very definition of a loss! So you need to secure a third decisive win after that win-win!

    But I think Trump will compromise a lot domestically and focus on foreign policy. Between governments no laws exist and no bureaucracy, just one on one. Real business.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Appropriations are what count. Authorizations are a sideshow at best.

  • Edward

    From the article: “Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “With President Trump’s signature on the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017, we put America back on a path to being a global leader in space. The last NASA authorization expired in 2013, and my colleagues and I have been hard at work to ensure a more robust and well-planned human exploration program.

    The Obama administration did a great deal to damage NASA and the goals it pursued. Paul Spudis phrased it well in the preface of his book “The Value of the Moon.” “Regrettably, strategic confusion currently abounds in the American civil space program.

    A few months ago, someone on this site pointed to a series of articles on NASA being adrift: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/nasa/adrift/1/

    If Chairman Smith is correct, we may see a reasonable goal for NASA in the near future.

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