Some good news from the Senate this week. It is reported that Senators Bob Graham (D-FL) and Connie Mack (R-FL) have agreed to sponsor a companion bill to the Commercial Space Act of 1997 (H.R. 1702). Their legislative staff are now drafting language for this bill.
Thanks are due the hundreds of NSS members and all space activists who have been sending a steady stream of letters and e-mails to Senator John McCain, chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, urging early introduction of a companion bill. A key staffer for Representative James Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House Science Committee, told NSS late last week that "it must be making a difference, because we're getting a lot of calls from the Senate staff [about H.R. 1702]."
The issue with the companion bill continues to be timing -- whether or not a series of actions will take place in time for the Senate to consider the bill before the end of the term. First, the House must go to the floor on H.R. 1702. Second, the Senate is currently focused on bringing their NASA Authorization bill to the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space, and then to the full Commerce Committee late next week or early the week of September 15. It is likely that, until that Authorization bill, which involves appropriating monies for NASA, has cleared the full committee, full attention will not be given to introducing the companion bill.
And finally, there are some reports the Senate might be pushing for an October 15 wrap-up, which could dramatically shorten the time remaining to accomplish these goals.
NSS will now ask activists to write their own state Senators and urge their cosponsorship of the bill as prepared by Senators Graham and Mack, and, most importantly, to push for consideration of the bill before the end of the term.
About the "NSS Capital Capsule"
The National Space Society is an independent space advocacy group headquartered in Washington, DC. Its 25,000 members and 95 chapters support the creation of a spacefaring civilization. For more information on the NSS and our future in space, visit http://www.nss.org/.