House Passes Updated FY2016 Intelligence Authorization Bill

House Passes Updated FY2016 Intelligence Authorization Bill

The House passed an updated version of the FY2016 Intelligence Authorization bill yesterday (December 1).  The revised bill, H.R. 4127, reflects a compromise between the bill that passed the House in June (H.R. 2596) and one that was reported from the Senate Intelligence Committee in July (S. 1705).   Most of the bill is classified, but unclassified portions hint at space-related actions.

A press release from the House Intelligence Committee says the bill “invests in the resiliency of our national security space architecture.”  Committee ranking member Adam Schiff (D-CA) said in the press release that the bill “strikes the right balance” for countering wide-ranging threats “particularly in cyberspace, outer space, and the undersea environment.” 

Schiff and committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) were the only two Members to speak about the bill during floor debate.  Nunes did not mention space programs, but Schiff remarked that the bill invests in “space protection and resiliency, preserving investments in cutting-edge technologies, and enhancing oversight of contracting and procurement practices.  I am particularly pleased with where the revised bill ends up with respect to our space programs.”  (He also noted that he did not support the earlier version of the bill, and still objected to language in this version regarding Guantanamo, but was willing to accept it because it conforms with what is in the recently enacted National Defense Authorization Act.)

The bill passed 364-58.

The unclassified text of the bill includes Sec. 312, which requires the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), in collaboration with the Secretary of Defense (SecDef) and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), to develop a strategy “to ensure there is a comprehensive interagency review of policies and practices for planning and acquiring national security satellite systems and architectures, including the capabilities of commercial systems and partner countries, consistent with the National Space Policy issued on June 28, 2010.” 

The bill language delineates nine elements that must be included in the strategy with the goal of ensuring the U.S. national security overhead satellite architecture is, for example, capable of meeting U.S. needs “in peace time and is resilient in wartime,” is “fiscally responsible,” “aims to produce in less than 5 years innovative satellite systems that are able to leverage common, standardized design elements and commercially available technologies,” and “emphasizes deterrence and recognizes the importance of offensive and defensive space control capabilities.”

No deadline is set for the strategy to be completed, but the DNI, SecDef and CJCS must report on it to Congress by February 28, 2016.


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