UPDATE: The Senate passed the conference report this afternoon (Dec. 21), clearing the bill for the President.
The House approved the conference version of the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last night, then adjourned until after Christmas. The surprise decision to leave town came after House Speaker John Boehner determined he did not have sufficient votes to pass his fical cliff "Plan B" and said it was now up to the President to negotiate a deal with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.
Athough that leaves the fiscal cliff situation in a very uncertain state, the House did at least pass the conference report on the NDAA (H.R. 4310). It is expected to pass the Senate today. The bill sets policy and recommends funding levels -- only appropriations bills actually provide money and the Department of Defense, like other government agencies, is operating under a Continuing Resolution until March 27, 2013 at FY2012 funding levels. As published in the December 18, 2012 Congressional Record, the FY2013 NDAA conference agreement includes a number of important space-related provisions, including the following:
- Eases export controls for satellites by repealing section 1513(a) of Subtitle B of Title XV of the FY1999 Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act, meaning that items that were on the dual-use Commerce Control List at the time that law was passed and thereafter transferred to the State Department's Munitions List and its International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) may now be transferred back to the Commerce Control List subject to certain determinations (sec. 1261-1267); this language replaces what the House passed in its version of the FY2013 NDAA in May.
- Establishes requirements on the President and others in the Executive Branch to make certain certifications and provide briefings to Congress if the United States becomes a signatory to an International Code of Conduct (sec. 913(a) and (b)).
- Requires an annual report on the counter-space programs of other countries (sec. 913 (c)).
- Requires a report describing key space technologies that could be used, or are being sought, by foreign countries with counter- space or ballistic missile programs that should be subject to export controls (sec. 917).
- Requires a report on the national security implications of continuing to use foreign components and propulsion systems for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELVs) (Sec. 916).
- Restricts the expenditure of 10 percent of the FY2013 funding for EELVs until the Secretary of the Air Force submits a report describing the acquisition strategy for that program and certification that it maintains assured access to space, achieves substantial cost savings, and provides opportunities for competition (sec. 153).
- Requires a report from the Secretary of Defense in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence on requirements for overhead persistent infrared technology (sec. 915).
- Requires a report by April 1, 2013 on DOD's peacetime and wartime requirements for electro-optical satellite imagery (sec. 924); this replaces the Senate provision that $125 million be added to ensure that both commercial satellite imagery companies (GeoEye and DigitalGlobe) are supported by government imagery purchases under the EnhanvedView contract. The conference agreement notes that the two companies have announced plans to merge and adds that if the merger is not approved by the Department of Justice, Congress will reassess the situation (Congressional Record, p. H7146).
- Requires that before any major satellite acquisition program begins, schedules that integrate satellites and their ground systems must be developed (sec. 911).
- Requires a report and a joint exercise plan on the readiness of the joint force to operate in environments where there is no access to Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems including satellites (sec. 342).
- Restores $10 million in funding and adds another $35 million -- a total of $45 million -- for the Air Force Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) program, which the Obama Administration wanted to terminate, and specifies in detail its organizational and budgetary placement within the Air Force. (The Senate Armed Services Committee's press release says that the final language included the committee's recommendation that up to $60 million in FY2012 funding be transferred from the Weather Satellite Follow-on program to ORS to build a low cost high technology readiness level weather satellite, but the conference report states that the House removed that provision, Congressional Record, p. H. 7145) (sec 914).
- Adds $35 million to the $10 million requested -- a total of $45 million -- for the Space Test Program.
- Authorizes private entities to contribute to the upkeep of DOD launch ranges and facilities (sec. 912).
- Authorizes DOD to procure block buys of Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellites 5 and 6 over six years, including advance procurement of $3.9 billion (sec. 152).
- Requires DOD to conduct an independent cost estimate and analysis of alternatives (AoA) for the Missile Defense Agency's Precision Tracking Space Sensor, cuts the $297 million request by $55 million, and limits the availability of 75 percent of that funding until the AoA is submitted to Congress (sec. 224).
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