Senate Busy, But FY2011 Funding Still Up in the Air, DOD Auth May Be Debated

Senate Busy, But FY2011 Funding Still Up in the Air, DOD Auth May Be Debated

The Senate has been busy today, though settling what will happen with FY2011 funding was not among its achievements. It did, however, defeat the DREAM Act, and pass a bill repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) law regarding gays in the military. Neither is related to space activities, but both have been much discussed in the media.

The DREAM Act would have granted legal residency to illegal immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 16. The House passed the legislation, but it failed a cloture vote in the Senate today, ending its chances in the 111th Congress.

The House already passed the DADT repeal, so the Senate action sends the bill to the President. One of the President’s campaign pledges was to repeal the law, which prohibits homosexuals from serving openly in the military.

Dealing with FY2011 funding for the federal government is on the Senate’s agenda for “Sunday and the week ahead.” The current CR expires on Tuesday.

The Senate also may debate a revised version of the FY2011 National Defense Authorization Act. The House passed it yesterday. The bill, H.R. 6523, authorizes $725 billion for FY2011 for national defense. To win passage, the revised version omits the most controversial topics, including DADT (which moved through as a separate bill) and a specific authorization for a second engine for the F-35, according to the National Journal (subscription required). The House Armed Services Committee’s (HASC’s) website has links to a summary of the bill and the text itself. The official title of the bill is the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for FY2011, in honor of HASC chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) who lost his bid for reelection. Sections 911-917 of H.R. 6523 specifically relate to national security space programs as follows:

Sec. 911. Integrated space architectures.
Sec. 912. Limitation on use of funds for costs of terminating contracts under the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Program.
Sec. 913. Limitation on use of funds for purchasing Global Positioning System user equipment.
Sec. 914. Plan for integration of space-based nuclear detection sensors.
Sec. 915. Preservation of the solid rocket motor industrial base.
Sec. 916. Implementation plan to sustain solid rocket motor industrial base.
Sec. 917. Review and plan on sustainment of liquid rocket propulsion systems industrial base.

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