House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas was joined by Space & Aeronautics Subcommittee Ranking Member Brian Babin and Rep. Young Kim in criticizing House Democratic leadership for stripping bipartisan NASA policy from H.R. 5746 and replacing it with legislation to attempt to seize control of elections from states.
“The majority has taken a practical, bipartisan bill and gutted it, inserting 735 pages of unrelated legislation and forcing the House to vote on it barely 12 hours after the text was released,” Lucas said. “Democratic leadership not only withheld the text of this bill, but they deliberately kept even the subject a secret until the last possible moment. Good policy doesn’t require secrecy and schemes. This is no way to govern. What’s more, by stripping this NASA bill and replacing it with an attempt to impose federal control of elections, they have killed our only vehicle to extend NASA’s authority to lease out underutilized property and save taxpayer money.”
“I am outraged because the Democrats have made a mockery of bipartisan collaboration for cheap political gain,” said Babin. “A few hours ago, H.R. 5746 was the NASA Enhanced Use Leasing Extension Act, a simple three-page bill that was good for NASA, good for our space industry, and good for our taxpayers, a bill that I was very proud to cosponsor. Now, in the dark of night, this bill has been hijacked and mutilated to become the latest iteration of the Democrats’ federal takeover of our election system – a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In fact, the only thing left from this original bill is its number. What’s worse, I can’t even remove my name as a cosponsor. This is no way to govern. Democrats are trying to sell the American people a bill of goods, and I will not support it.”
“The NASA Enhanced Use Leasing Extension Act was a noncontroversial bill to support the public and private sectors of our space industry,” Kim said. “Senate Democrats and Speaker Pelosi hijacked a bipartisan, good-faith effort to support space innovation to move forward with their partisan agenda to take control of elections from state and local officials and give it to Washington politicians. Speaker Pelosi is again undermining good government to ram through her partisan agenda in the dark of night. I came to Congress to fight for commonsense solutions that help the American people. I cannot support the Senate Amendment to H.R. 5746, that is nothing more than a partisan power grab, undermining our elections.”
H.R. 5746, the NASA Enhanced Use Leasing Act, was originally a bipartisan bill to extend NASA’s authority to lease idle or underutilized property to the private sector, state and local governments, and academic institutions. The money NASA receives in return can then be used to offset spending for facilities maintenance and property improvements. Under this program, the commercial space industry benefits from access to NASA facilities, and taxpayers benefit from the revenue these leases bring in to offset NASA’s costs. In 2022, NASA expects to collect $14 million in net revenue from enhanced use leases. The House passed a clean ten-year extension of the bill in December. The program expired at the end of 2021 and without a legislative extension, NASA’s ability to enter new leases will be delayed.