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Senate Panel Gives Bigger Raises to NASA and NOAA

The United States Senate appropriations committee is set to approve a NASA budget for 2010 that mirrors President Barack Obama's $18.7 billion request for the agency, setting up a fight with the House of Representatives, which slashed $212 million from the funds sought by NASA for its human exploration program. The House wants funding for that program to wait until the end of a 90-day review that began in May. The Senate's budget, approved by a Senate panel on Wednesday and expected to be passed by the Senate's full appropriations committee today, would give NASA a raise of 5%, including $4.5 billion for science. The House appropriations bill, passed last week, would give the agency $18.2 billion or a 2% increase over its 2009 level.

The Senate panel is also good to NOAA, which would receive about $170 million more than in the House bill. The House bill puts the agency at $4.6 billion, which is 5% above its 2009 budget, while the Senate panel grants a 7% increase. One of the programs getting a bump is the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), which is a top priority of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative, an advocacy group for ocean research and policy. The Senate would fund IOOS at $36 million, while the House sets it at $26.5 million—both higher than the Administration's request of $21.2 million.