Well, this is it, people: both chambers of Congress have just passed the NASA Authorization Act of 2017, which gives the space agency almost 20 billion dollars in funding, as well as the mandate:
Not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall contract with an independent, non-governmental systems engineering and technical assistance organization to study a Mars human space flight mission to be launched in 2033.
But the “National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017”—sponsored by a Senator. Ted Cruz —is so much more than that. You can read the entire thing at the link and even download it as a PDF if you’d like; and you really should. This is the type of stuff you need to educate yourself on, stuff the mainstream news does not make a priority to cover in any real depth.
As to why so many members of Congress who don’t seem to care much about global warming (or, indeed, even believe in its existence) would be willing to toss so many billions towards “wacky space stuff”…that’s a question, isn’t it?
Anyway: another step on The Road to 2020.