On July 24, the House Appropriations Committee that finances NASA made a comment via their Chairman saying that it was not economically viable to make another human space travel to the moon.
Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), the representative of OSTP at a hearing of the CJS subcommittee comments that despite their support for NASA, the urgency for moving up the schedule for the next moon travel in 2024 was unclear and unnecessary. He further remarked that although he was supportive of continual presence of humans in space, the economy will have to bear a cost of over $20 billion throughout the next four years. The unforeseen shifting schedule ahead will reflect in the hampering of future funds for other programs for the Government. In reference to the ranking member of the subcommittee, Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Serrano said that they are both supportive of NASA. They were not opposed to travelling to the moon but the idea of shifting schedule ahead of the travel at the cost of spending extra money was disagreeable.
Kelvin Droegemeier, the Director of OSTP was the sole witness of the hearing. Serrano hurled multiple questions at him regarding the financial and technical plausibility of such an arbitrary mission. He questioned the necessity of spending additional $20 billion to prevent crossing a political deadline. To this, Droegemeier could only say that the extra cost in totality will be less than $20 billion. A proper cost estimate is unlikely to be available till the agency’s fiscal year in 2021 releases the budget proposal in early 2020.
Droegemeier refrained from giving out the specifics regarding the Artemis program which further unconvinced Serrano. On July 22 the Congress and the White House declared a two-year budget deal that would stop expense capping and evade budget cuts that were created automatically. Several spending bills of the CJS were passed by the House in June where the Artemis bill was not included. Serrano and Senate associates will reconcile the bill to fit into reviewed expense capping.