House Passes DOD Authorization Bill; SASC Reports Its Version

House Passes DOD Authorization Bill; SASC Reports Its Version

As its last action before the Memorial Day recess, the House passed the FY2011 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5136) this afternoon. Across Capitol Hill, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) reported out its version of the legislation.

The vote on House passage of H.R. 5136 was 229-186. The bill authorizes $567 billion for Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Energy (DOE) national security programs. The bill is under a veto threat because it continues funding for a second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says the second engine is not needed. He tried to kill it last year, but failed. The bill also has several other contentious provisions, including repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The latter includes the caveat, however, that repeal will not occur until the Pentagon completes its review of the issue and certifies that the policy change would not harm military readiness or unit cohesion.

Meanwhile, SASC issued a 30-page press release summarizing its major decisions on its version of the authorization bill. Regarding space activities, it lists the following actions:

Requires the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), to develop a plan to sustain the liquid rocket motor industrial base.
Directs the Secretary of Defense to implement recommendations to sustain the solid rocket motor industrial base.
Authorizes an additional $30 million for sensor integration and ensures nuclear detection sensors are manifested on space platforms.
Provides $110 million for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System and directs DOD to establish the new program for weather satellites as soon as possible to avoid any gaps in coverage.
Provides $50 million for new military satellite communications technology development for future applications.
Provides $25 million for new military infrared satellite technology development for future applications.
Adds $15 million for operations to support utilization of the Spaced-based Infrared Satellite Highly Elliptical Orbit sensor and for the ground control stations.
Adds $20 million for Operationally Responsive Space to support core activities.
Adds $15 million to the space test program for additional small launch capacity.
Cuts $30 million from the Spaced-Based Space Surveillance program due to program delays.
Expresses the sense of the Senate that programmatic actions of NASA may have impact on DOD space and missile programs and directs the Secretary of Defense to study and report on any impact.

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