Ever since the Obama Administration cancelled the Constellation program in early 2010, the best people in the Congress have tried to wage a fight on space policy, but have only ended up compromising with the genocidal Executive. As of this writing, 2013 looks no better—unless LaRouche's three-point recovery program is promptly implemented. That is the only framework in which America's space program can survive.
In the waning hours of the 112th Congress, both Houses passed a bill to tie up loose ends, extending a waiver to the Iran, North Korea, Syria Nonproliferation Act, so NASA can purchase seats on Russian Soyuz vehicles to 2018, without which no astronauts will be able to live on the International Space Station. The bill also extends third-party liability indemnification for commercial launch providers for one year, without which a commercial company would be bankrupted paying damages from even one launch accident.
The bill, now awaiting the President's signature, also restates the language and intent of the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, which was a cowardly "consensus" reached with the White House. This compromise states that the White-House-promoted commercial launch projects will not be pursued at the expense of the new heavy lift Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew vehicle, and vice versa. There is little question that the White House will propose, for the third year in a row, in its FY14 NASA budget request next month, that the commercial launch programs be funded at the $800+ million level. Once again, the Congress will most probably cut that approximately in half.
The stupidity here is that Orion is already not being funded enough to be able to get crew to the space station before at least 2017. And if the money to commercial providers is cut again, those programs will also be delayed, and they will not be able to do so, either.
So for all of the handwringing, compromise and budget cutting has left us with a crippled manned space program. Last year, to "save money," hundreds of millions of dollars were slashed from planetary exploration. Who knows what the White House will come up with, this year?