Space News reported that the House Science Committee voted to approve HR 3525, a bill designed to “To provide for termination liability costs for certain National Aeronautics and Space Administration projects, and for other purposes.” It would take away from the executive branch the power to cancel a number of high profile NASA programs, including the Orion spacecraft, the heavy lift Space Launch System, the International Space Station, and the James Webb Space Telescope. The bill would also allow each project to tap into so-called termination liability funds, set aside in case the project is cancelled. This money amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars for each project.
The bill was offered in reaction to the abrupt cancellation of the Constellation program almost four years ago by the Obama administration, which was done without consultation with Congress. The bill, if passed and signed into law, would forestall anything similar happening, giving Congress the sole authority to cancel these programs.
The bill enjoys broad, bi-partisan support with 15 cosponsors, five of them Democrats. It now goes to the House floor. It’s ultimate fate is as yet uncertain.