Wednesday, April 27, 2005

In case you were worried that you might someday run out of things to despise Tom DeLay for, David Corn points out another: DeLay is now apparently making NASA a personal fiefdom and profit center.

Corn's article on the subject is in the current Nation; it's behind the subscription-only wall, but he reproduces it on his blog.

Scroll past the item about Ann Coulter (or read it -- it's quite amusing) and learn that in the notorious 2003 Texas redistricting DeLay's district was tweaked so that the Johnson Space Center in Houston would be grafted on; after that -- coincidentally? -- NASA became the only program in Bush's budget to receive an increase, apart from those involving defense and homeland security. Even some Republicans thought that didn't seem right:

The GOP-run House appropriations subcommittee on veterans and housing--which oversaw NASA's funding--trimmed NASA's budget by $1.1 billion, partly to make room for funding for veterans' healthcare.


Bush then threatened to veto the $92 billion appropriations bill that included NASA's money. More important, DeLay hit the warpath.

... He kept the subcommittee's bill bottled up. (During this spending battle, aerospace firms like Northrop Grumman and Boeing funded a reception honoring DeLay at the GOP convention.) The appropriations bill covering NASA eventually was incorporated into an omnibus spending measure. And in December DeLay threatened to block that legislation unless NASA received the full funding proposed by Bush. According to Democrats on the appropriations committee, to accommodate DeLay the committee had to apply a nearly 1 percent cut to other programs. This meant slashing $456 million in education, $225 million in veterans' healthcare and $61 million in scientific research. DeLay didn't mind. He held firm and got his way....

Is DeLay just bringing home the bacon? John Pike of doesn't think so:

"This is not just about DeLay bringing money to his district," Pike says. "It's national. If you want a contract with NASA, who are you going to go to? And we all know how you get DeLay's attention. DeLay must realize this. Over time, the amount of discretionary budget authority available to him could add up to billions."

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