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Congress passed the NASA Authorization Act of 2022 on Thursday. Following passage NASA Administrator Bill Nelson released a statement thanking Congress.

“I am incredibly pleased Congress has passed the NASA Authorization Act of 2022 – the first authorization for our agency in five years,” Nelson said. “This act shows continued bipartisan support of NASA’s many missions, including our Moon to Mars approach, as well extension of U.S. participation in the International Space Station to 2030.”

“With strong support from the Biden-Harris Administration as well as this authorization, NASA will continue to advance scientific discoveries, enable sustainable aviation, address climate change, and much more,” Nelson said. “As we work to send the first woman and first person of color to the Moon under Artemis, I’d like to specifically recognize Senators Maria Cantwell, Roger Wicker, John Hickenlooper, Cynthia Lummis, as well as Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson, Frank Lucas, Don Beyer, and Brian Babin, for their leadership in passing this bill. This generation – the Artemis Generation – is part of a sustainable exploration program that will last decades.”

The NASA Authorization Act of 2022 was part of the omnibus Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act of 2022.

Notably, the legislation officially extends the agency's participation in the International Space Station (ISS) program by six years, to 2030. Russia announced that it planned to leave the ISS when its new space station is built, which is not expected until 2028. NASA also relies on its other partners, particularly the European Space Agency, to continue to keep the ISS operational.

The main purpose of the CHIPS and Science Act was to increase semiconductor manufacturing in the United States to address supply chain shortages, but the bipartisan legislation includes a whole lot more than that.

The nearly $250 billion package of federal investments in American science and technology research, innovation and manufacturing was passed by the Senate on Wednesday and the House of Representatives on Thursday.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL07) voted in favor of the bill.

“The CHIPS and Science Act is a victory for Alabama and our nation!” said Rep. Sewell. “This major legislation is all about ensuring that America remains a world leader in science, technology, and innovation.”

The bill was led and negotiated by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington).

The bill allocates approximately $25,973,800,000 to NASA next year — precisely the amount the agency was allocated in the White House's 2023 budget request.

The legislation establishes a Moon to Mars Program, to include the Artemis missions to place the first American woman and person of color on the moon and achieve human exploration of Mars. Artemis is scheduled to launch on the Space Launch System late next month to orbit the moon in an unmanned test of the Artemis system.

Thousands of Alabamians at the Marshall Space Flight Center as well as NASA’s corporate partners are working on the Artemis and Space Launch System to return the U.S. to the moon. China recently landed their unmanned Chang 5 spacecraft on the Moon to collect the first moon rocks in decades. This is seen as a precursor to a manned Chinese mission to the moon.

The legislation extends ISS operations through 2030 and prioritizes efforts to reduce risks for exploration and to advance basic and applied research. It establishes U.S. policy to maintain world leadership in aeronautics, including through demonstration of advanced, ultra-efficient and low emissions aircraft. It also authorizes an advanced materials and manufacturing technology program, to address U.S. competitiveness in aerospace and funds STEM engagement to ensure that NASA continues to invest in attracting broad participation in the STEM fields. The bill requires NASA strategies for ensuring the capabilities of the NASA workforce, skills-base, and modeling and test facilities.

The bill holds NASA asteroid-hunting NEO Surveyor mission to its 2026 launch date rather than moving it back to 2028 and cuts funding for nuclear thermal propulsion development. It also added $50 million to support a new commercial crew provider outside of SpaceX and Boeing.

Both Congressional Republicans and Democrats increasingly believe that Republicans will take control of at least one house of Congress in coming midterms; therefore, House Democrats are attempting to pass as much legislation as they can as quickly as they can in order to obligate the government to prioritize their programs and policies for the 2023 fiscal year and beyond. The next major item on the agenda is a $600 billion spending package designed to implement the President’s climate proposals. Since that will pass the Senate using the budget reconciliation process it only requires 50 votes and Vice President Kamala Harris so, unlike the CHIPS and Science Act, does not need any Republican votes to pass.

Congressman Barry Moore (R-AL02) blamed Democrats policies for the high inflation that has resulted in a second quarter in a row of negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

"No blame game, moving goalposts, or dishonest justifications from this administration and their media allies will fool American families – we are in a full-blown recession that is wiping out the unprecedented economic gains of the Trump administration," said Moore. "Unfortunately, Democrats are doubling down on dumb this week with their reconciliation bill that expands their own power through more federal government overspending and Green New Deal policies that leave us more beholden to overseas adversaries.

"Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and all the Washington Democrats who vote in lockstep with them are to blame for this recession, and the pain won’t end for American families until Washington has new leadership that serves Americans and not itself.”

The U.S. budget deficit is already at $1,609 billion, adding to a national debt that is $30,612 billion.

The CHIPS and Science Act has been approved by both the House and Senate and has been sent to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature. He is expected to sign the bill into law.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.

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