Shelby Takes Over Senate Appropriations Committee, Defense Subcommittee; Moran to Chair CJS

Shelby Takes Over Senate Appropriations Committee, Defense Subcommittee; Moran to Chair CJS

Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) was appointed as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee today, succeeding Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi) who retired due to illness.  Shelby had chaired the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee that funds NASA and NOAA, but decided to take over the Defense Subcommittee instead, which Cochran also had chaired.  Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) will take the CJS gavel.

Shelby is well known in space circles and hardly needs any introduction to the readers of this website.  NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is in Huntsville and Shelby is a major supporter of its activities, including the Space Launch System (SLS) program that is managed there.  He also is a strong supporter of the United Launch Alliance (ULA), which manufactures the Atlas and Delta rockets in Decatur.  Blue Origin and Aerojet Rocketdyne are among the other aerospace companies with major facilities in the state.  Alabama also is home to national security space facilities, including the headquarters of Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

The Defense Subcommittee is a plum assignment for any Senator.  Congress appropriated $700 billion for defense in FY2018, compared to approximately $55 billion for all the agencies covered by CJS.  Although he is leaving the CJS subcommittee as chair, Shelby will be an ex officio member of all the subcommittees and will wield extensive influence over all appropriations as chairman of the full committee.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), new chairman of the Senate Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS)subcommittee.

The new chairman of the CJS subcommittee, Jerry Moran, is probably less well known in the space policy community, although he is co-chair, with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia), of the Senate Aerospace Caucus.  At a January 2018 meeting with new Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Eric Fanning, Moran said that the “aerospace industry is where a strong national defense and stable economy converge” and that he and Warner “are committed to making certain that America’s defense, civil aviation and space sectors advance amidst global challenges.”

He also is a member of the Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), which oversees NASA.

Kansas does not have any NASA centers, although Wichita is an aviation manufacturing hub and the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson has an impressive collection of U.S. and Russian space artifacts.  The Kansas Department of Commerce proudly declares that Kansas is the “Center for Aerospace Excellence,” with over 32,000 people employed in aerospace in the state.

Moran visited Johnson Space Center in Houston last year for a tour and  to discuss JSC’s role in space exploration.  He was accompanied by officials from Wichita State University and its National Institute for Aviation Research.

Wichita State is the lead institution in the Kansas Space Grant Consortium.  Kansas also is one of the states in NASA’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program.

The new membership rosters for the CJS and Defense subcommittees are as follows (by party, in order of seniority).

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