Author Topic: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012  (Read 74425 times)

Offline spectre9

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #40 on: 03/22/2012 12:32 AM »
This is why I support more NASA centers not less.

That is not a rational reasoning.  There is no need for more centers and there is not enough work for the ones that exist.  The existing centers have unique facilities.  If there is no need for the facilities, then the center needs to close.  Projects and programs can be managed at any NASA center (meaning no need for more centers, just add people to existing)


But districts without centers (as in jobs for their area) will not support giving NASA more funding.

So how do you propose getting around this issue?

I think people in more of the bigger more financially capable states should have their own NASA center no matter if it is just to add to the existing capabilities of the other already existing NASA centers.

What makes KSC and JSC so special that they should control the space funds/jobs for all time?

Offline neilh

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #41 on: 03/22/2012 12:46 AM »
But districts without centers (as in jobs for their area) will not support giving NASA more funding.

So how do you propose getting around this issue?

How do the other research and technology programs in the federal government deal with this issue?
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Offline robertross

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #42 on: 03/22/2012 01:01 AM »
Just to be clear- just because Obama "proposed" a level of funding in a budget "proposal" does not mean that the given project was actually FUNDED at that level. It is "funded" when the Congress finishes with the budget and the President signs it into law. Thus if "commercial" is proposed to get $850B and the Congress gives it less than half of that and the President agrees, it IS then "funded" at that level. The only way for that program to have its "funding cut" is for someone there after (such as OMB, who BTW serves at the pleasure of the President)to reduce the funds. So, if "commercial" was funded at a lesser level than the President proposed, they would not have been "cut" because they never had the higher level of funds in the first place.

Often I see people using the "proposed" level of funding as if it were the approved level of funding in order to make it appear as if someone someplace had made a cut. You cannot cut what they do not have.

When I get more time (I have a deadline tonight) or if someone else wants to do it, it would be a good exercise to put down all of the actual funding levels for "commercial" over the past several years and see where the actual cuts are.
Nevertheless, if a program needs ~$850 million a year and you give it about half, you're going to get poor performance and stretched out schedule. And if you're relying on that program so you don't have to buy seats from the Russians, congratulations you've just exported hundreds of millions of dollars to the Ruskies instead of spending it domestically for a domestic capability.

And that's the crux of the matter. We're into it now, and not just as a development, but a long-overdue need. Every launch not done domestically is money sent overseas to Russia. So now it really is in Congress' best interest to get Commecial Crew going - the sooner the better. It's also jobs for Americans. It's also a capability useable for other enterprises (if they so choose & can afford it).
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Offline Chris Bergin

Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #43 on: 03/22/2012 03:06 AM »
So what happens next? I this most of us agree Commercial Crew has to get everything it asks for (850m), but when does this all get voted on, etc?

I hope this doesn't turn into a SLS/Orion vs Commercial Crew issue again, not only as someone who wants to see SLS stay on track/improve, but because Commercial Crew might lose that fight.




Offline jongoff

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #44 on: 03/22/2012 04:36 AM »
But districts without centers (as in jobs for their area) will not support giving NASA more funding.

So how do you propose getting around this issue?

How do the other research and technology programs in the federal government deal with this issue?

Well in DARPA's case for instance, they don't have much in the way of fixed facilities (most of their budget goes for "extramural R&D"), but I think it's more of a case that defense is seen as a need to have, while *manned* spaceflight is stuck with rationales for its existence such as "inspiration" and "getting kiddies into STEM fields". Playing to the higher rungs of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is a good way to get defunded when the budget is tight and people are worried about lower-level needs.

~Jon

Offline jongoff

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #45 on: 03/22/2012 04:42 AM »
So what happens next? I this most of us agree Commercial Crew has to get everything it asks for (850m), but when does this all get voted on, etc?

I hope this doesn't turn into a SLS/Orion vs Commercial Crew issue again, not only as someone who wants to see SLS stay on track/improve, but because Commercial Crew might lose that fight.

To butcher a military analogy: Congress wants NASA to cram 10lb worth of smelly stuff into a 5lb bag. NASA is asking for a 10lb bag.  Congress is going to give them a 4lb bag out of spite (again), and then whine about the mess made in the process and why the schedule is slipping. 

Congress could solve this problem by either giving NASA the 10lb bag (all the money needed to do this on schedule the way Congress wants it done), or they could lower the amount of smelly stuff that needs to be packed into that bag (giving NASA more flexibility on safety, compliance, contracting method, etc).

But as I think we all know, Congress is most likely not going to even attempt to solve the problem. Remember, they solved all the problems in the known universe with their 2010 Authorization Bill, and it's just the OMB's fault for not providing all the money they asked for.  They're going to stand there complaining that if it wasn't for that evil OMB and Obamaspace, NASA would be able to fit 10lb of smelly stuff into a 4lb bag without making a mess.

As a friend of mine at NASA once put it "it's not about whether you win or lose, but how you place the blame."

~Jon

Offline peter-b

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #46 on: 03/22/2012 05:29 AM »
Your description of the situation and predictions seem pretty much spot on to m, jongoff.
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Offline spectre9

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #47 on: 03/22/2012 05:54 AM »
I'm still not even sure how the process works.

Why isn't NASA getting the dollars they're promised in the Space Authorisation Act?

Surely if it says they should build X with Y dollars nobody should expect X to get built with Y minus 3 billions dollars.

They are forced to cut stuff to make the budget fit.

Everything they cut there is backlash.

Surely this is catch 22?

Not being allowed to cancel stuff they don't have the money for.

Offline STS Tony

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #48 on: 03/22/2012 05:55 AM »
Your description of the situation and predictions seem pretty much spot on to m, jongoff.

I respect his opinion. But I would prefer to hear from someone without bias.

Thank god for the 2010 Authorization Act I say. And yes, I have bias.

However, just imagine how dull it would have been with FY2011.

Offline woods170

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #49 on: 03/22/2012 07:18 AM »
To butcher a military analogy: Congress wants NASA to cram 10lb worth of smelly stuff into a 5lb bag. NASA is asking for a 10lb bag.  Congress is going to give them a 4lb bag out of spite (again), and then whine about the mess made in the process and why the schedule is slipping. 

Congress could solve this problem by either giving NASA the 10lb bag (all the money needed to do this on schedule the way Congress wants it done), or they could lower the amount of smelly stuff that needs to be packed into that bag (giving NASA more flexibility on safety, compliance, contracting method, etc).

But as I think we all know, Congress is most likely not going to even attempt to solve the problem. Remember, they solved all the problems in the known universe with their 2010 Authorization Bill, and it's just the OMB's fault for not providing all the money they asked for.  They're going to stand there complaining that if it wasn't for that evil OMB and Obamaspace, NASA would be able to fit 10lb of smelly stuff into a 4lb bag without making a mess.

As a friend of mine at NASA once put it "it's not about whether you win or lose, but how you place the blame."

~Jon

Best post of the whole thread IMO.

Offline yg1968

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #50 on: 03/22/2012 08:30 PM »
So what happens next? I this most of us agree Commercial Crew has to get everything it asks for (850m), but when does this all get voted on, etc?

I hope this doesn't turn into a SLS/Orion vs Commercial Crew issue again, not only as someone who wants to see SLS stay on track/improve, but because Commercial Crew might lose that fight.

Nothing is expected to be settled prior to the election. But chances are that both the Senate and the House will release proposed legislations which will give us a better idea of what to expect.

But 51D Mascot would be a better person to answer this question and give us the estimated timelines.
« Last Edit: 03/22/2012 08:31 PM by yg1968 »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #51 on: 03/22/2012 08:47 PM »
Prediction: Continuing Resolutions until the election.

(pretty easy prediction, there...)
« Last Edit: 03/22/2012 08:47 PM by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline Namechange User

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #52 on: 03/22/2012 08:49 PM »
To butcher a military analogy: Congress wants NASA to cram 10lb worth of smelly stuff into a 5lb bag. NASA is asking for a 10lb bag.  Congress is going to give them a 4lb bag out of spite (again), and then whine about the mess made in the process and why the schedule is slipping. 

Congress could solve this problem by either giving NASA the 10lb bag (all the money needed to do this on schedule the way Congress wants it done), or they could lower the amount of smelly stuff that needs to be packed into that bag (giving NASA more flexibility on safety, compliance, contracting method, etc).

But as I think we all know, Congress is most likely not going to even attempt to solve the problem. Remember, they solved all the problems in the known universe with their 2010 Authorization Bill, and it's just the OMB's fault for not providing all the money they asked for.  They're going to stand there complaining that if it wasn't for that evil OMB and Obamaspace, NASA would be able to fit 10lb of smelly stuff into a 4lb bag without making a mess.

As a friend of mine at NASA once put it "it's not about whether you win or lose, but how you place the blame."

~Jon

Best post of the whole thread IMO.

No it's not. 

Jon knows full well that there was much effort that went into the Authorization Act with consultation from all stakeholders, including potential recipiants of the money. 

It was the Administration, which controls OMB, that then turned around and threw everything into disaray right after the Authorization Act was signed into law with the release of the FY12 proposal. 

That same can be said for the latest budget.  Is the Authorization Act perfect?  Of course not.  Is there wiggle room in actual appropriations?  Probably. 

But "Obamaspace" is a large part of the problem.  For one that was so gung-ho about the FY11 proposal, history has shown it was exactly what I and so many others thought it was, an excuse to do nothing under the guise (and gulibility of those who would fall for it) that it was doing so much.  Years on and we still have no integrated strategy.

Who are you going to blame, the Administration the agency falls under and takes major direction from or Congress, which is by definition is a committee (and all that implys), and only chartered with oversight of the agreed-to policy?

Congress is very far from perfect but let's not be so naive to pretend it is them that is the entire problem. 
Enjoying viewing the forum a little better now by filtering certain users.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #53 on: 03/22/2012 09:12 PM »
So what happens next? I this most of us agree Commercial Crew has to get everything it asks for (850m), but when does this all get voted on, etc?

I hope this doesn't turn into a SLS/Orion vs Commercial Crew issue again, not only as someone who wants to see SLS stay on track/improve, but because Commercial Crew might lose that fight.

To butcher a military analogy: Congress wants NASA to cram 10lb worth of smelly stuff into a 5lb bag. NASA is asking for a 10lb bag.  Congress is going to give them a 4lb bag out of spite (again), and then whine about the mess made in the process and why the schedule is slipping. 

Congress could solve this problem by either giving NASA the 10lb bag (all the money needed to do this on schedule the way Congress wants it done), or they could lower the amount of smelly stuff that needs to be packed into that bag (giving NASA more flexibility on safety, compliance, contracting method, etc).

But as I think we all know, Congress is most likely not going to even attempt to solve the problem. Remember, they solved all the problems in the known universe with their 2010 Authorization Bill, and it's just the OMB's fault for not providing all the money they asked for.  They're going to stand there complaining that if it wasn't for that evil OMB and Obamaspace, NASA would be able to fit 10lb of smelly stuff into a 4lb bag without making a mess.

As a friend of mine at NASA once put it "it's not about whether you win or lose, but how you place the blame."

~Jon
Good post, as usual.

This is a capability that the nation needs in order to have near-term and assured access to a national asset, that takes a small (relative to SLS/Orion) but still significant amount of funding to actually be useful, and every time Congress short-thrifts the program, it leads pretty directly to just more money being given to the Russians (for their defense sector, no less) and more risk to ISS.

The last slide of this NASA presentation supports what your post:
http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/630152main_5-McAlister_NAC%20-%20Commercial%20Status%20-%20Mar%202012%20-%20508.pdf

Quote
"Commercial Crew – What Keeps Me Up at Night"

• A universal risk has been identified at the HQ-level, the Program-level, and within
each of our partners projects:
– The funding for commercial crew may remain lower than expected and needed.  If this
continues to be the case, NASA will be forced to reduce the technical scope of the SAAs,
thereby delaying service availability and extending NASA’s reliance on foreign providers
for human space transportation.
« Last Edit: 03/22/2012 09:54 PM by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Jeff Bingham

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #54 on: 03/22/2012 11:43 PM »
So what happens next? I this most of us agree Commercial Crew has to get everything it asks for (850m), but when does this all get voted on, etc?

I hope this doesn't turn into a SLS/Orion vs Commercial Crew issue again, not only as someone who wants to see SLS stay on track/improve, but because Commercial Crew might lose that fight.

Nothing is expected to be settled prior to the election. But chances are that both the Senate and the House will release proposed legislations which will give us a better idea of what to expect.

But 51D Mascot would be a better person to answer this question and give us the estimated timelines.

I will try....Where to start?!  As I work the “authorization” side of things, I generally try not to comment on appropriations questions in any detail. (There are jurisdictional customs and protocol that are practiced between and among the respective Committees.)  In addition, this was a House hearing, and I also don’t work on that side of the Capitol. Thus, I will keep my comments more general, and hopefully help with at least some of the questions that I’ve noticed in this thread--so it's addressed more broadly than just in response to Chris or yg.

First is a reminder, especially for those not familiar with the U.S. federal governing system, that we have a constitutional “Separation of Powers,” among the three “branches” of Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Each branch has its own separate constitutional underpinnings and functions. It can get very confusing and muddled, especially when compared, for example, to the Parliamentary systems in much of the rest of the world, where there’s perhaps not such a clear distinction between the “branches.” (again, no expert there, so very top-level observations). With respect to the Federal Budget, the shorthand description is “The President Proposes; the Congress Disposes—and the Courts resolve any disputes regarding the exercise of either role.”

So, the President has proposed a federal budget for FY 2013, which will begin on October 1, 2012. The “Congress” as an institution is the recipient of that proposal and three separate processes—and associated Committees and subcommittees—take the proposal under review: the Budget Committees can produce a non-binding Budget Resolution, which sets basic funding “targets” and can impact the ground rules for consideration of the request, as provide in the Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, as subsequently amended (doing that from memory, so don’t hold me to specific nomenclature). The Authorizing Committees, for NASA, at least, have already spoken—back in the 2010 Act—on the authorized funding levels and underlying policy and program issues, since the section of that bill providing authorization of funds was enacted for FY 2011, FT 2012, and FY 2013.  The “program and policy” language in the other sections of the bill/law remain in effect unless “sunsetted” by the terms of the initial bill itself (where language stated a date upon which a provision would cease to be in effect), or until amended or repealed by a subsequent Congress.

The real source of “action” this year, then, is in the third realm of congressional activity, the Appropriations process. That is where the final congressional action will take place, either in the form of a specific appropriations for that portion of the budget in which NASA is included, and is within the jurisdiction of the respective appropriations subcommittees of the House and Senate.  (The Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittees of the respective House and Senate Appropriations Committees; generally referred to as responsible for the “CJS Appropriations.”)

They will hold their hearings, (first of which for review of the NASA Request was the subject of this thread, next of which will be in the Senate next week), and then at some point, yet to be determined, they will prepare their proposed appropriations legislation and (usually) associated Report language. That would hopefully occur, or at least begin, sometime in the late Spring-mid-Summer time-frame.

Depending on when all that is completed, at some point, in an ideal world, the respective Chambers will receive “reported” legislation for CJS from the Appropriations Committees and take them to the floor for consideration by the whole Congress. Where there are differences between House-passed and Senate-passed legislation—or if only the House passes a bill and sends it to the Senate and the Senate amends it—then the leadership of the two chambers will appoint “conferees” to meet together to iron out differences between the two bodies, and hopefully reach a consensus on a “Conference Report” that would have to then accepted by both Chambers before being sent to the President for his action. (There are some variations on specific steps, but that is the “normal” process.) Of course, failing all of that, and no final action on actual appropriations language that both chambers can agree to before the end of September, the interim—in some cases, alternative—step is the “Continuing Resolution,” or “CR.” That’s a whole other kettle of fish that would take another several paragraphs to describe—and has been done, by me and others, elsewhere on this site in years’ past—and which you can “Google” if you want more detail.

Clearly, the ideal situation would be to have all that sorted out before September 30/October 1, when the transition takes place from the current fiscal year to the next. I don’t know anyone who believes that will be the case this year, with the elections looming, so the best betting seems to be on a CR or series of CR’s on into early next Calendar Year, for some or all of the various parts of the appropriations process (there are basically 13 Subcommittee areas of jurisdiction among which the appropriations responsibility is split; ideally resulting in a separate appropriations measure being adopted for each.)

Not a simple description (because there isn’t one that I’ve seen!) and also not a hopeful one for those who want neat, tidy, quick answers, but I think a realistic one based on past experience and practice. Please don’t shoot the messenger…I didn’t dream this stuff up, and old as I may be, I wasn’t there at the drafting of the Constitution of the United States.

Hope that helps with respect to process.

Regarding other substantive points and points of "debate" I'll just say at this stage that I really wish it were as simple and cut-and-dried as so many folks seem to think. I wish that reality and data didn't have to intrude on dreams and hopes, but that's just not the world I, at least, have to live and work in. Those elected to make the decisions (and the folks they use to help them) will do the best they can to find answers that can work in the way they are "empowered" by their certificate of election, to determine. Regardless of what stereotypes or generalizations folks want to apply, they will do the best they can do with the tools and resources at hand. If you don't like them, or me, or any other part of the process, by ALL means, if you're an American citizen, stand up and be counted, make your voice heard, and try to bring about the political change that best suits your preferences. Meantime, the folks that have the job to do will do it the best they can.
Offering only my own views and experience as a long-time "Space Cadet."

Offline jongoff

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #55 on: 03/23/2012 01:12 AM »
No it's not. 

Jon knows full well that there was much effort that went into the Authorization Act with consultation from all stakeholders, including potential recipiants of the money.

At the time NASA and the administration were both saying it wasn't enough for commercial crew, the way Congress wanted it, when they wanted it.  The only reason they supported the Senate version was because the House version was even worse (IIRC it was going to give CCDev only like $250M/yr, and didn't outright cancel CxP, etc). While they may have encouraged people in Congress to vote for the Senate bill to avoid getting an even worse deal, that hardly means they agreed that the Senate bill was adequate money. It *could* be adequate money if Congress wasn't trying to insist on so much bloat and overhead, but if they want CCDev to close the gap soon, and want it to have tons of overhead to claim it will be perfectly safe, and want FAR-based contracts, etc. it's going to cost more money than they wanted to give it.

Quote
Congress is very far from perfect but let's not be so naive to pretend it is them that is the entire problem.

Oh, I completely agree that NASA management hasn't done a stellar job of things, and I don't think the Obama administration has handled this well at all. But I still stand behind my comment that I think Congress is being unrealistic to demand Commercial Crew be cheap, super safe, be available right away, be done with FAR contracts, and at the same time, be limited to a tiny yearly budget.  They want faster, better, cheaper, and with all the traditional overhead. You might be able to get three of the four, at best.

~Jon

Offline Jorge

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #56 on: 03/23/2012 01:53 AM »
No it's not. 

Jon knows full well that there was much effort that went into the Authorization Act with consultation from all stakeholders, including potential recipiants of the money.

At the time NASA and the administration were both saying it wasn't enough for commercial crew...

You're saying that as if they were two separate entities.

NASA is part of, and subordinate to, the administration.
JRF

Offline jongoff

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #57 on: 03/23/2012 02:50 AM »
No it's not. 

Jon knows full well that there was much effort that went into the Authorization Act with consultation from all stakeholders, including potential recipiants of the money.

At the time NASA and the administration were both saying it wasn't enough for commercial crew...

You're saying that as if they were two separate entities.

NASA is part of, and subordinate to, the administration.

Fair enough. I was just making the point that just because one went with the Senate version as the lesser of two evils, doesn't mean one actually agreed that their numbers were actually realistic--just better than the alternative.

Regardless, it still seems like NASA is being asked to do too much for too little (again).

~Jon

Offline QuantumG

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #58 on: 03/23/2012 03:00 AM »
As much as I appreciate Jon's opinion on this, an argument could be made that the NASA administration is just being petulant here.. why don't they just prepare a plan for what can be done with the amounts that were authorized? If Congress doesn't like that plan then NASA can present an alternative with more funding. Maybe if Congress is given the choice, as a way of recognizing that they are the final authority here, they will tell NASA what they actually want. So long as OMB keeps requesting more money than the authorized amount, without any consultation with the Congress, the NASA administrator will keep getting called before appropriations hearings like this and asked why.. no matter what he says, the program will be punished to punish the impertinence of OMB. As Chairman Wolf made clear: the White House needs to learn that they don't run the space program, Congress does.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #59 on: 03/23/2012 03:01 AM »
As much as I appreciate Jon's opinion on this, an argument could be made that the NASA administration is just being petulant here.. why don't they just prepare a plan for what can be done with the amounts that were authorized?...
Because Congress told them to do it another way, a way that can only be done with more money.
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To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

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