When President Clinton proposed the creation of 100,000 new Section 8 housing vouchers for low-income tenants earlier this year, progressives figured it was only a matter of time before House and Senate Republicans shot it down.

Now, they're thinking it just might fly.

According to one lobbyist, the House GOP leadership is whispering about bankrolling Clinton's voucher launch with cuts to--of all things--NASA's space shuttle program. "HUD's appropriations subcommittee also controls funding to NASA," explained Linda Couch, a lobbyist with the National Low Income Housing Coalition, "and I've actually heard Republicans mention getting the money for the vouchers by cutting back on the number of shuttle missions."

Half of the new vouchers would go to welfare recipients making the transition to jobs; the other half would be split among the homeless and elderly.

Less sanguine is other Section 8 news. Earlier this month, Clinton inked a Republican disaster relief package that raided over $2 billion from a Section 8 reserve fund. While housing advocates are accepting administration and GOP assurances that the money will be restored, there are no guarantees. "We're hopeful, but we have no idea when or how they're going to do it," said Nancy Bernstine with the DC-based Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding.

As money talks progress, House and Senate Republicans last week moved closer to okaying a long-delayed public housing reform bill that will allocate a greater number of units to more affluent residents. One hurdle that remains, insiders say, is a controversial provision that will grant local governments power to spend HUD money that had historically been granted to local public housing authorities alone.