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Space Watch

Committee Action Updates Report

The update from Washington, D.C., is by Space Foundation Government Affairs Associate Tommy Sanford

Nov. 5:  The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence approved S. 1681, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. The legislation's accompanying committee report, S. Rpt. 113-120, contains language that would require the Intelligence Community (IC) to review policies related to commercial satellite imagery.

  • First, the Committee would require the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Secretary of Defense to perform a three-pronged analysis to inform its decisions "about the amount and mix of National Technical Means and commercially available images that the IC should invest in the future that balances meeting mission requirements and costs."
  • Second, the Committee "is concerned that foreign commercial imagery providers may soon be able to provide imagery at or better than the currently allowed commercial U.S. resolution limit of 0.5 meters," which would put "the United States at a competitive disadvantage and may harm an industrial base that is important to national security."

The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 now awaits a vote by the full Senate. There is no indication at this time when that vote may take place.

Nov. 18:  The U.S. Senate began debating S. 1197, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. The bill annually authorizes funding for Department of Defense programs and mandates Congressional policy guidance. Much of the debate surrounding the bill will be focused on policy matters unrelated to space, however, the bill does authorize funding for key military space systems and outline important space- and cyber-related guidance.

Important space-related provisions include, but are not limited to: a report detailing the Department of Defense's near-, mid-, and long-term strategy for using an appropriate mix of defense and commercial satellite bandwidth; and a report on the potential benefits and drawbacks of disaggregating key military space systems.

Nov. 20:  The U.S. House Science Subcommittee on Space held a hearing on the topic of commercial space. Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives, testified before the committee on the importance of commercial space and his new bill that would streamline regulations for the industry. Congressman McCarthy's district is home to the Mojave Air & Space Port, where several commercial space companies build and test their space system's hardware.

Nov. 21:  The U.S. Senate ended debate on S. 1197, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, and adjourned for a two week holiday recess. The bill annually authorizes funding for Department of Defense programs and mandates Congressional policy guidance. The bill does authorize funding for key military space systems and outline important space- and cyber-related guidance. Important space-related provisions include, but are not limited to: a report detailing the Department of Defense’s near-, mid-, and long-term strategy for using an appropriate mix of defense and commercial satellite bandwidth; and a report on the potential benefits and drawbacks of disaggregating key military space systems. The Senate is expected to resume debate on the bill when they return from recess on Dec. 9.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the bill in June. Once the Senate passes S. 1197, the House and Senate will convene a conference committee to work out the differences between the two bills, which will then be voted on and sent to the President to be signed into law.

Nov. 21:  The U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence passed its version of the Intelligence Authorization Act for 2014. Only a few details have been made public about the bill. However, in a press release, the Committee stated that the bill would reduce authorized space program funding by more than $130 million. The bill now awaits a vote by the full U.S. House of Representatives.

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