The Senate unanimously passed a NASA authorization bill on December 18, a mostly symbolic development expected to set up development next year on a revised version of the law. By mutual consensus, the Senate passed S. 2800, the 2019 NASA Authorization Act. After its approval by the Senate Commerce Committee in 2019 November, the bill has been pending consideration by the full Senate.

The lead sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Ted Cruz, chair of the Senate’s space subcommittee, stressed the bipartisan aspect of the bill in short-floor comments. The chair and ranking member of the full Senate Commerce Committee co-sponsored the bill with Cruz, together with the ranking member of the space subcommittee.

“Now, what we have achieved is legislation that has significant as well as widespread majority support and establishes clear space goals for NASA agency and the United States of America. It offers the route and the required resources to reach them,” he said.

The bill approved the research projects of NASA and expanded the approval of operation of the International Space Station until 2030. However, it was bogged down amidst controversies over other clauses, including allowing NASA to examine its providers’ relationships with China.

Cruz, as well as the other supporters of the bill, was trying to solve those challenges in order and approve the bill. “I hope we shall get this bill of approval done.”  Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the leading member of the Senate Commerce Committee, said during a November 6 statement, “I can’t guarantee you it will be completed in a lame-duck legislative session, and if it doesn’t, I promise you it will be achieved in the very beginning of 2021.”

Despite the legislature’s passage in the Senate, Cruz admitted there was no hope this year for the legislation to become law. The Senate has its own edition of the NASA approval bill, which varied substantially from the Senate version, especially in NASA’s lunar lander production management. In a November 16 discussion, Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.), House space subcommittee chair, said it was unlikely that the House would take up the Senate bill. She spoke of the Senate and House bills, “I feel there are some discrepancies that we would like to make our way through.” “It was going to be a big weight to get any bill out of both houses as well as signed into law, considering the time from now to the end of the year.”

https://portchronicle.com/

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