Hal Rogers, Ken Calvert to Chair Key House Appropriations Space Subcommittees

Hal Rogers, Ken Calvert to Chair Key House Appropriations Space Subcommittees

Today House Appropriations Committee chairwoman Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) named the 12 “Cardinals” who will decide how to allocate federal funding in the 118th Congress. As somewhat of a surprise, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) will chair the Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee that funds NASA and NOAA. Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) will chair the Defense subcommittee that funds DOD, including the U.S. Space Force, and intelligence agencies like the National Reconnaissance Office.

Granger issued the full list of subcommittee chairs today. They and their Senate counterparts are nicknamed Cardinals because of their power over annual funding decisions for the discretionary portion of the federal budget. They “hold the purse strings” for most of the federal departments and agencies the public knows.

Source: House Appropriations Committee

Many expected Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) to chair CJS, not Rogers. A strong space advocate from the Huntsville area, Aderholt previously was the top Republican on the subcommittee and issued a booklet last summer outlining his space priorities when rumors were growing that Republicans would regain control of the House. Instead he will chair the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education subcommittee.

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), chairman, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce-Justice-Science

Rogers is a former chairman of the full House Appropriations committee (2011-2017) and served on CJS from 2017-2019 when Rep. John Culberson was chairman.

In an interview with the Commonwealth Journal on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing in 2019, Rogers excitedly talked about not just the Apollo landing, but the 1957 launch of Sputnik when he was 19 and working at a small radio station in North Carolina. He and a buddy were intrigued and decided to call Nikita Khruschev in the Soviet Union for an interview. After many unsuccessful attempts, they were able to reach a Soviet scientist (whose name is not mentioned in the story, unfortunately) who spoke with them for an hour and half, leading Rogers to decide he wanted to make rockets his career. He returned to the University of Kentucky to study physics “‘But while I wanted to shoot rockets, they wanted me to study math.'” So he moved on to journalism and then law, “but the fascination with space has never subsided” the newspaper reported.

The 85-year-old represents Kentucky’s 5th congressional district that includes Morehead State University, a NASA Space Grant University.  Its Space Science Center developed the Lunar IceCube cubesat that launched on Artemis I.

Rogers has been in the House since 1981 and last year became Dean of the House, the longest continuously serving member, after the death of Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska). In that capacity he swore in Kevin McCarthy as Speaker two weeks ago. He said he would encourage McCarthy “to be decisive but fair; to bring wisdom and good judgement; to preside with great dignity; to invite and encourage comity and good will; and to listen and hear the wishes of us, the direct representatives of the citizens of the people of America. … By the same token, it is our responsibility to render to the Speaker our support and to work with him in good faith for the benefit of the American people and the future of this nation.”

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, speaking at a subcommittee hearing May 13, 2022 when he was Ranking Member. Screengrab.

Calvert, 69, has represented districts of California in the Riverside area (currently the 41st district) since 1993. He previously was the top Republican (Ranking Member) on the Defense Subcommittee and co-chaired the California Aerospace Caucus with Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA).

At a May 13, 2022 hearing on the FY2023 budget request for the Air Force and Space Force, Calvert expressed concern about the Biden Administration’s “weak request” for defense. He was pleased, however, with how the Space Force is growing its capabilities because “nearly all our military operations rely on continued dominance in space.”

In the past, he was a member of the House Science Committee and chaired the space subcommittee.

A third subcommittee, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, also has a role in funding space programs. It oversees the Department of Transportation, of which the FAA and its Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST) are part. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) will chair that subcommittee. His fellow Oklahoman Frank Lucas chairs the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee that has authorization jurisdiction over FAA/AST.

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