House and Senate Agree on FY2013 Defense Authorization Bill-UPDATE 2
UPDATE 2: The text of the conference report is available on the House Rules Committee website.
UPDATE: The HASC Democratic Caucus fact sheet has additional information on export control reforms, which is included in this updated article
House and Senate conferees agreed today on the final version of the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), H.R. 4310.
A fact sheet released by the House Armed Services Committee's (HASC's) Republican leadership summarizing the compromise version said that the bill authorizes $552.2 billion for the base national defense budget plus $88.5 billion for "overseas contingency operations," a total of $640.7 billion. The conference agreement is $1.7 billion more than the President requested according to the fact sheet.
Several provisions in the House- and/or Senate-passed bills are of interest in the context of space policy, but only one was mentioned in the Republican fact sheet -- funding for national security space programs is increased by $50 million above the President's request. That fact sheet does not specify what the differences are between the request and what Congress decided. One area of sharp disagreement was the President's proposal to eliminate the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) program and the Space Test Program (STP), which both HASC and the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) want to continue.
Another key issue is export control reform and the HASC Democratic Caucus's fact sheet reveals what happened with that issue, even though it is not mentioned by the Republicans. The House-passed version of H.R. 4310 would restore to the President authority to decide what satellite-related items are governed by the State Department's Munitions List and its International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and which are on the dual-use Commerce Control List overseen by the Department of Commerce, although satelilte exports to China remain prohibited. The Senate-passed version did not include that language. The final version repeals section 1513(a) of the FY1999 defense authorization act and therefore "essentially restores" to the President ability to decide whether satellites and related items are on the Munitions List or the Commerce Control List.
The Senate-passed version would add $125 million for the National Geopatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to purchase commercial satellite imagery to enable both GeoEye and DigitalGlobe to stay in business instead of providing sufficient funding for only one of those companies to survive. NGA already notified GeoEye that it would not be receiving anticipated funding and the two companies announced plans to merge last summer. The Department of Justice's antitrust division is reviewing that plan. Neither fact sheet addressed that issue.
The House is expected to vote on the conference report later this week. The full text should be publicly available soon.
Editor's Note: H/T to Jeff Foust at SpacePolitics.com for pointing out the link to the Democratic fact sheet.
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