The House Appropriations Committee released the draft FY2019 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) funding bill, which will be marked up at subcommittee level later this week. The draft bill would fund NASA at $21.546 billion, $810 million more than its current level and $1.6 billion more than requested by the Trump Administration.
The committee did not release a draft of the explanatory statement that provides details on its proposal, but the draft bill includes top-level information on key programs.
Science scores the biggest bonanza. No mention is made in the draft bill on the fate of the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), which the Trump Administration wants to terminate, but the James Webb Space Telescope seems safe despite its recent woes. Not surprisingly, two missions to Jupiter’s moon Europa — a passion of CJS subcommittee chairman John Culberson (R-TX) — are well funded. The bill would more than double the $265 million request for Europa Clipper and adds $195 million for a Lander, which is not funded at all in the request.
Deep Space Exploration (SLS, Orion and Exploration Ground Systems) also does well, with all three funded at their FY2018 levels instead of the decreases proposed by the Trump Administration.
Following is a summary of what is explained in the draft bill, but it leaves many questions about the specifics of the many increases and the one decrease. All comparisons are to the President’s FY2019 request unless otherwise stated. For more information on the request, see SpacePolicyOnline.com’s fact sheet.
- Science: $6.68 billion, an increase of $785.6 million above the request.
- As in past years, the James Webb Space Telescope is capped at $8 billion for development and NASA must inform Congress if it will exceed that cap. (NASA has already informed Congress that it is likely to breach that cap.)
- Europa Clipper is funded at $585 million and Europa Lander at $195 million. As in the past, they must be launched by the Space Launch System in 2022 and 2024 respectively.
- Aeronautics: $715 million, an increase of $81 million over the request.
- Exploration Research and Technology: $900 million, a decrease of $103 million from the request.
- Deep Space Exploration: $5.084 billion, an increase of $526 million above the request.
- Funding for SLS, Orion and Exploration Ground Systems would be at their current (FY2018) levels instead of the reduced amounts requested
- Of the amount provided for SLS, $300 million is for the Exploration Upper Stage
- Advanced Exploration Systems is funded at $1.039 billion, an increase of $150 million. Of that amount, $504 million is for the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, the same as the request. The draft bill does not specify what the extra $150 million is for.
- LEO and Spaceflight Operations: $4.625 billion, the same as the request.
- Education: $90 million, an increase of $90 million above the request. Of that, $18 million is for EPSCoR and $40 million is for Space Grant.
- Safety, Security and Mission Services: $2.85 billion, an increase of $100 million, slightly more than FY2018.
- Construction and Environmental Compliance and Restoration: $562.2 million, an increase of $174 million (restoring it to its FY2018 level).
- Office of Inspector General: $39.3 million, the same as the request.
The draft bill continues the prohibition on NASA or the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from engaging in bilateral space cooperation with China without prior congressional authorization, and adds the White House National Space Council to the list.
The committee adopts NASA’s new budget accounts for human exploration, but not its symbolic move of the human spaceflight accounts to the top of the list, before science and aeronautics.