Report from Washington, D.C.

News From The Hill

Written by: developer

by Rachel Hendrix, intern, Space Foundation, Washington, D.C., office
and Jillianne Pierce, Space Foundation Government Affairs Associate

On Nov. 2, President Obama signed H.R. 1314, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which will boost federal spending for the year by $50 billion. It is still unclear how this agreement will affect appropriations for NASA and NOAA programs.
On Nov. 5, the House passed S. 1356, the National Defense Authorization Act, with an overwhelming bipartisan majority. This passage came after a budget deal between the House and Senate Armed Services Committees trimmed $5 billion from military spending levels, of which approximately $30 million would come from space (including a $10 million reduction to the Family of Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals). President Obama is expected to sign this bill into law, despite having vetoed the previous iteration.
On the evening of Nov. 16, the House passed H.R. 2262, the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, which had passed unanimously out of the Senate previously. The legislation extends the Federal Aviation Administration’s regulatory learning period through 2023, discusses space resource exploitation and utilization, and otherwise ensures stability for the continued development and growth of the U.S. commercial space sector. Bill sponsor, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, said of the bill’s passage, “Today America stands at the beginning of a new era of innovation and adventure….Completing consideration of the SPACE Act in this chamber today helps ensure America remains the leader in space exploration and innovation in the 21st century.”
On Nov. 17, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Space and Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing entitled “Exploring Commercial Opportunities to Maximize Earth Science Investments.” The witnesses included experts from industry and academia, and highlighted opportunities for public-private partnerships to satisfy NASA earth science data requirements. The witnesses emphasized the need for government to meet with industry to learn about what the industry is capable of as it sets its requirements for the future.

This article is part of Space Watch: December 2015 (Volume: 14, Issue: 12).