Sen. Hutchison pitches sizable expansion to proposed NASA budget

Ultimately, the Texas Republican is hardly alone in her criticism of the White House's space plan: Many lawmakers have charged the Obama administration's NASA budget lacks vision and dooms the U.S. space program to second-tier status.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) even called the budget proposal "radical" during a hearing last week. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fl.) similarly signaled concerns with the spending plan at that time.

However, it is unclear whether Hutchison's bill might gain traction. While the White House's NASA budget has hardly received a warm reception in Congress, a change to that plan would require lawmakers to approve space spending increases at a time when deficit concerns all but dominate all political debates.