There’s an article in the Houston Chronicle about the cuts to NASA’s 2005 budget request. The Majority Leader does seem to be on the warpath about it:
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, the Sugar Land Republican whose district includes NASA’s Johnson Space Center, called the cuts “unacceptable,” then warned: “It would be very hard to get this bill to the floor if it’s unacceptable to me.”
DeLay, the second-highest-ranking House Republican, schedules measures for floor consideration and wields considerable power over spending bills.
I haven’t looked at the cuts in detail, but they seems mainly to affect the president’s new vision. One of the biggest cuts is in the Prometheus Program (largely Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter at this point), most of which would go to California (JPL and whatever contractor is selected) and DOE labs for the reactor work. No money for JSC there. The general exploration activities, including CEV, are nominally funded out of Houston, but it’s managed at HQ and will go to contractors all over the place. Shuttle is fully funded, as is ISS. This action doesn’t seem to be bad for JSC at all, all things considered, from a pork perspective.
So why is DeLay up in arms about it? He is supposedly, after all, one of those Republicans who are supposed to be concerned about federal spending.
Theory 1: He’s greedy, and assumes that any budget cuts will affect JSC to some degree, however minor (probably a valid assumption).
Theory 2: He wants to support the president in his budget request, out of loyalty to the White House.
Theory 3: He actually believes in the vision, and wants it to be funded this coming year.
Theory 1 doesn’t seem worth holding up an appropriations bill over. I’ve got to surmise that it’s theories 2 and 3 in some proportion. Can it be that the Hammer has become a space nut?