Senate Appropriators Back ORS and STP, Full Committee Markup Tomorrow

Senate Appropriators Back ORS and STP, Full Committee Markup Tomorrow

Air Force plans to eliminate the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) program and the Space Test Program (STP) suffered another blow yesterday with the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee markup of its FY2013 bill.  The subcommittee added funds for both.

The Senate appropriators are folllowing suit with recommendations from the House and Senate authorizing committtes, but are at odds with their House appropriations counterparts.  

The Obama Administration requested zero for ORS and $10 million for STP.  The Senate appropriators recommend adding $100 million for ORS and $35 million for STP.   The House Armed Services Committee added $25 million for ORS and $35 million for STP.   The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) recommended $45 million for ORS as well as moving it to another part of the Air Force and transferring $65 million from the Defense Weather Satellite Follow on progam for ORS to build a low cost, high technology readiness level weather satellite.  SASC said the transfer was subject to appropriations action, and the Senate appropriators apparently agreed by funding ORS at $100 million.  SASC also added $35 million for STP, with which the appropriators also agreed.

By contrast, the House appropriations committee added no money for either ORS or STP.

Details of the Senate appropriations defense subcommittee’s rationale have not been released yet, but the House and Senate authorizing committees pointed to the continuing need for both ORS and STP even in an era of budget constraints.

The Senate appropriations bill also “[r]everses cuts to development funds for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency and the Space Based Infrared Systems satellites to mature next-generation technologies, such as hosted payloads, radiation hardened components, and affordability enhancements” according to a committee press release.

The full committee will markup the bill tomorrow at 10:30 am ET.

Congress begins its August recess on Friday and will not return until September 10.   The House, Senate, and White House agreed yesterday to enact a 6-month Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government from the beginning of FY2013 on October 1, 2012 through March 31, 2013.  The CR will not be voted on until September, but assuming it passes, it gives Congress substantial time to reach agreement on this and the other 11 regular FY2013 appropriations bill.  


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