May 3, 2010
By STEWART M. POWELL
WASHINGTON — The devil may be in the details. But for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the details spell opportunity on her road back from defeat in the race for Texas governor.
The 66-year-old insider is working to parlay the nitty gritty of President Barack Obama's decision to extend space station operations to 2020 into enough leverage to help sustain Houston's Johnson Space Center by winning a two-year extension of space shuttle flights.
Legislation crafted by Hutchison in the Senate and Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, a Florida Democrat in the House, would require NASA to identify and make specific delivery arrangements for supplies and equipment needed by the orbiting space laboratory before steps are taken to end shuttle operations this year.
Shunning partisan posturing in favor of digging into the details is standard operating procedure for a 17-year Senate veteran and University of Texas-trained lawyer who built a reputation as a behind-the-scenes operator, says Cal Jillson, a political scientist at SMU.
“I think this fight has been a good vehicle for her to get up off the canvas and start counter-punching after her setback back home,” he said.
Hutchison will publicly showcase her deepening concerns in May at a hearing by the 26-member Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee where she is the senior Republican on the Democratic-led panel.
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