I was delighted to hear that Congressman Al Green of TX-9 filed a bill on Monday, HR 5855 to be specific, that allocates $80 million in federal funds to pay to retrain or otherwise help NASA employees, and others, whose jobs will be negatively impacted by the cancellation of the Ares/Constellation manned spaceflight program.
TX-9 is a congressional district that lies just east of the Johnson Space Center plant, but commuting being what it is, as well as downstream effects of job losses in the region, this bill will inevitably work to directly benefit some of Green’s constituents.
Pete Olson, whose TX-22 district does include the JSC plant also signed on to this bill as a co-sponsor, the only one listed at this writing, although the article at Fort Bend Now indicates that Congressman Gene Green and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee have since included their names on the co-sponsor list.
Now I think it’s great that Olson has signed on in support of a bill, authored by a Democrat, that directly benefits thousands of his own constituents. It makes me wonder, though, why such a bill didn’t originate from his office, and that led me to conclude that when push comes to shove, Olson will eventually vote No on passage of this bill, and in doing so will join the steadily growing crowd of Republican legislators who co-sponsor a bill that they eventually vote against.
Now why do I say this? Well for one thing, being the congressman whose district includes NASA, Olson couldn’t very well avoid putting a stamp of approval on a bill that is expressly written to benefit his own constituents. But if you read the bill you have to ask from where do they get these funds to pay for the job retraining program? The answer is not apparent. Olson doesn’t vote for things that are unfunded, even if they serve to benefit his own constituents, like the unfunded unemployment extension bill that he voted against. But because this bill directly targets his constituents, Olson couldn’t very well refuse Green’s appeal to support his bill by co-sponsoring it.
After all, it makes good press.
And when Olson votes against the bill, if it ever comes up for a vote, you’ll not see that reported in the press.
But you will see it here.