The blog Parabolic Arc reported on December 3, 2013 that Rep. Mo Brooks, R-AL has introduced H.R. 3525 with the rather long winded title of “To provide for termination liability costs for certain National Aeronautics and Space Administration projects, and for other purposes.” The real purpose appears to be to prevent President Obama or any other president from cancelling the heavy lift Space Launch System or the Orion space craft. Both pieces of space hardware are being developed by NASA to support the space agency’s space exploration program.
It is the usual practice of NASA to have a certain amount of money held in reserve for an important space project in order to cover termination costs should the project be cancelled before it is finished. Brooks’ bill would end that practice and free up the money being held to potentially terminate the Orion and the SLS to instead fund the development of the said vehicles.
While the government rarely terminates contracts for its own convenience, Congress is still smarting about the Obama administration’s abrupt cancellation of the Constellation program, a move that many people believe was politically motivated. Brook’s bill would prevent that from reoccurring with the Orion and the SLS unless and until Congress specifically agrees and specifically appropriates the money to cover termination costs.
The fate of the bill is, at best, uncertain. While it might pass both houses of Congress with bi-partisan support it is unlikely that President Obama would give up some of his executive authority by signing it into law. Then again the Obama administration officially supports the Orion and the SLS, so a veto might prove to be embarrassing and hard to explain.