Today’s Tidbits: December 4, 2017

Today’s Tidbits: December 4, 2017

Here are our tidbits for December 4, 2017:  another blow for the Export-Import Bank; another nomination for Mike Griffin; U.S. Strategic Command stands up the new Joint Forces Space Component Command  (JFSCC).  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter for more news and live tweeting of events.

Export-Import Bank Saga Continues

Charles Hall. Credt: Export-Import Bank website.

Charles Hall, the acting Chairman and President of the Export-Import (ExIm) bank has resigned according to Government Executive magazine [].  That leaves only one member of what should be a five-member Board — Scott Schloegel, the acting Vice Chairman and First Vice President.

The Bank barely survived extinction in 2014-2015.  Created in 1934, it helps provide financing for U.S. exports, including those in the aerospace sector like communications satellites.  The Bank must be periodically reauthorized by Congress, a step taken with little notice until recent years.  Currently, opponents claim it is corporate welfare for a few big companies like Boeing and General Electric, while supporters hail the Bank as an important jobs creator by facilitating U.S. exports.

In 2015, it actually lost its authorization for several months until advocates in the House invoked a rare parliamentary procedure to bring the issue before the full House for a vote when the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, an opponent, refused to do so.   The advocates won the day and the Bank was reauthorized, but it has been a Pyrrhic victory so far.  A quorum of three Board members is needed to approve loans over $10 million and there has not been a quorum since.  That is due in part to that fact that some influential Senators also oppose the Bank and nominees need Senate confirmation.

President Trump supports the Bank, however, and has nominated a full slate of new members, but some are quite controversial. The nominee to be Bank President, Scott Garrett, for example, is a former Congressman (he was defeated for reelection last year) who once vowed to eliminate the Bank.  A confirmation hearing was held by the Senate Banking Committee on November 1 for all of the nominees.   At the hearing, Garrett said that he is committed to “and will carry out the President’s vision regarding ExIm: a fully functioning Bank.”

The committee has not set a date for voting on the nominations, which then must go to the full Senate for a vote.

New Nomination for Mike Griffin

Former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. Photo Credit: NASA/Renee Bouchard

Today President Trump announced his intention to nominate former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin to be Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USD/R&E), a position that will not exist until February 1, 2018.   Trump has already nominated Griffin to be Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD/ATL).  The idea is to get Griffin confirmed in the USD/ATL position so he is already on board on February 1, ready to take on the USD/R&E job.

The FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act directed DOD to split the USD/ATL responsibilities in two.  USD/ATL will be dissolved and replaced with an Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (USD/A&S) and a USD/R&E.   Ellen Lord, the current USD/ATL, is expected to continue as USD/A&S.

With his nominations for both the temporary and the permanent positions before the Senate, he could have a single nomination hearing.  The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) has not announced a date for that hearing, however.

In the meantime, SASC will hold a hearing on defense acquisition reform on Thursday, with Lord and the three service secretaries (Army, Navy, Air Force) testifying.

Additional Job for Air Force Space Command’s Gen. Jay Raymond

Acquisition isn’t the only part of DOD that Congress believes needs reorganizing.  Congress and DOD agree that changes need to be made to how DOD, especially the Air Force, manages space programs.  While they do not agree on everything, the Air Force took one step this weekend to streamline and integrate space into strategic operations.

The Commander of Air Force Space Command (AFSC) is now dual-hatted as commander of U.S. Strategic Command’s (USSTRATCOM’s) new Joint Forces Space Component Command  (JFSCC).  That person right now is Gen. John (Jay) Raymond, who added the JFSCC hat this weekend.

The new JFSCC replaces USSTRATCOM’s Joint Functional Component Command (JFCC) for Space, which had been headed by a three-star General (Lieutenant General), rather than a four-star General like Raymond.  Raymond now will be responsible “for the organizing, training and equipping of Air Force space forces as well as executing operational command and control of joint space forces” according to AFSC.  (In the photo below, Gen. John Hyten, Commander of USSTRATCOM and a former AFSC Commander, is on the left; Raymond is on the right.)

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