WASHINGTON — President Reagan, objecting that his authority would be limited by provisions in the NASA authorization bill for 1987, vetoed the measure Friday but noted that his disapproval will not affect current space programs.
The President already has signed a catchall spending bill that includes $10.4 billion to run the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the current fiscal year and to get a start on building a replacement for the space shuttle Challenger.
Usually, Congress passes bills to authorize spending before it appropriates specific amounts. Appropriations without prior authorizations are unusual but not unprecedented. The Federal Trade Commission ran that way for years.
"NASA's policy in a situation like this is to regard the last act of Congress as expressing the will of Congress and that, of course, is the appropriations bill," said Jim McCulla, a space agency spokesman.
Reagan's disapproval is called a pocket veto because the bill went unsigned while Congress was not in session.
Reagan's principal objection was to a provision creating a National Space Council to advise him in space-related matters.
Such a group, he said, "would constitute unacceptable interference with my discretion and flexibility in organizing and managing the executive office as I consider appropriate."
The President also objected to a "Buy American" provision in the legislation.