On December 11 the United States House of Representatives Science, Space, and Technology Committee approved a bill, H.R. 3625, that would require an act of Congress to cancel four of NASA’s largest programs: The Space Launch System (SLS), the Orion crew vehicle, the International Space Station, and the James Webb Telescope.
On January 6, Space News published an editorial called “Kill This Bill” which they summarized “H.R. 3625 would turn NASA’s biggest programs into privileged juggernauts.” The editorial stated: “Legislation proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives that would effectively shield selected big-ticket NASA programs from termination without prior congressional approval is bad policy that should be rejected by the Senate, if it gets that far.” It went on to say the bill “would remove a powerful incentive for the relevant NASA center and its contractors to control costs,” that it would create “a new class of untouchable programs,” and it “should be killed before it comes anywhere near the president’s desk.”
Lori Garver, recent Deputy Director of NASA and former Executive Director of the National Space Society, was quoted in Space News stating “We should not be debating whether or not we should have the ability to terminate a program that is not working in a cost-plus environment.”
The Planetary Society Blog on December 10 stated that the bill sets a bad precedent and that these projects “like every other project at NASA, should be judged on their merits and their cost vs. benefits through the normal political process, not added to some protected list to the exclusion of all other NASA activities.”
The National Space Society drafted a position statement opposing HR 3625 in December and issued a press release on the subject on January 13.