The Planetary Society today issued a statement about the request that the U.S. House of Representatives suspend the rules when voting on the NASA Authorization bill:
The U.S. House of Representatives is being asked today to bring a highly controversial NASA Authorization bill (H.R. 5781) to the floor for a quick vote before Congress heads out of town for its summer break. The NASA bill would be taken up under procedures to "suspend the rules" that limit debate and do not allow amendments or changes to the bill. The future of the space program is too important to rush through a controversial change in policy.
The Planetary Society is very concerned that the proposed NASA Authorization, which was only recently unveiled by the House Science and Technology committee, has taken an approach to space exploration that deviates significantly from any plan offered by NASA or any previous Administration -- one that raises many fundamental questions about the direction and sustainability of the space program.
Specifically, the proposed bill abandons any significant investment in exploration technology, effectively eliminates the Administration's approach for engaging the commercial sector, establishes a program of loan guarantees that the Administration did not request, and seeks to reinstate programs that have been determined to be unsustainable. It also proposed no specific exploration goals for U.S. human spaceflight, a serious omission that was recognized after the tragic loss of life on the shuttle Columbia. Human space flight should be worth its cost and risk, and, as the Augustine Committee stated after an independent review of the U.S. human spaceflight program, "worthy of a great nation."
There has been inadequate time to review and understand the implications of this new plan. Therefore, the Society urges the House leadership to wait until after the August recess to bring the bill to the House Floor, allowing a full and open debate and for amendments to improve the bill.