A Solid Win for Space: Senate Unanimously Approves NASA Transition Authorization Act
Before concluding its final legislative day for the 114th Congress, the US Senate unanimously approved an amended version of S. 3346, the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016, last Friday, December 10.
A revised version of a previous bill passed by the Senate Commerce Committee back in September, the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016 has allocated $19.5 billion for NASA for fiscal year 2017. It also included a wide range of policy provisions, such as developing a transition plan for future operations of the International Space Station (ISS), creation of a "strategic framework" for human space exploration leading to Mars missions, and a report about the effectiveness of NASA's planned Asteroid Redirect Mission, an article by SpaceNews reports.
Unfortunately, since the Congress has already passed its final bills last December 8 and has adjourned its sessions for the 114th Congress, the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016 has lost its chance to become a full-fledged legislation this year. Still, its proponents are rejoicing, as they are confident it will pave the way for the smooth passage of a similar bill as the 115th Congress begins in January, 2017.
The bill's lead sponsor, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, said in an official statement released on December 10 to members of the press:
"This broad, bipartisan legislative achievement provides NASA with the stability it needs as the agency transitions to a new administration. It also lays an important marker as we continue working to enact this important legislation as soon as possible."
While other members of the scientific community are expressing apprehensions about federal funding under the forthcoming White House takeover of President Donald Trump, so far things are looking pretty good for NASA. Recently, the space agency scored a whopping $75 million dollars to fund its Florida facility's Hurricane Matthew damages from the stopgap spending bill.