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NASA gains Senate support over budget cuts proposed by House

Ares-1X, Constellation, AugustineThe budgetary committee of the U.S. Senate yesterday approved a bill that would give NASA all the money President Obama requested for the agency for fiscal year 2010, undoing a proposed House cut of roughly half a billion dollars.

The House bill slashed funds from the space agency's programs for human exploration, with the chair of the appropriations subcommittee, West Virginia Democrat Alan Mollohan, calling it "a pause, a time-out" while a White House–convened panel chaired by former aerospace executive Norman Augustine reviews NASA's human spaceflight program.

In a statement of policy issued last week, the Obama administration praised in broad terms the House bill, which covers numerous federal agencies, but expressed concern "with the reduction of $670 million from the president's...request for Exploration Systems" at NASA. Such a reduction, the administration cautioned, would actually impede the implementation of the Augustine panel's recommendations.

"We do not agree with the House strategy," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat who chairs the Senate appropriations subcommittee responsible for science, as reported by Florida Today. "We agree with the president's budget."

If the full Senate version passes as written, the two legislative houses will have to hammer out a compromise.

Photo of test hardware at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for next-generation Ares rockets, whose future is uncertain pending a review of NASA's human spaceflight plans: NASA

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