Block to Space Corps, New BRAC Round Among Proposed NDAA Amendments

From left, SMSgt. Thomas Arns, 527 Space Aggressor Squadron, monitors a frequency instrument while coworker, Capt. Brian Goodman, communicates that they are ready to test a fighter squadron's GPS capability July 20, 2016 at Nellis AFB, Nev., during exercise Red Flag. The House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to the Fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that would create a separate Space Force within the Air Force. The full House will now debate that and other amendments. Air Force photo by TSgt. David Salanitri.

The list of proposed amendments to the draft 2018 National Defense Authorization Act shows that key provisions may still have hurdles to clear before becoming law. Members of the House of Representatives were required to submit individual proposed amendments to the House Rules Committee by noon Friday. That committee is set to decide Tuesday on which amendments it will allow for floor debate before the full House on July 12 and 13.

In all, lawmakers have offered nearly 400 such amendments to the version of the NDAA that was approved by HASC at the end of June by a vote of 60-1.

After HASC voted to include a provision that would create a separate Space Corps within the Air Force, Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) has proposed an amendment to block that change and require instead a report on “whether there is a strategic need to establish a Space Corps as part of the Air Force.” Turner offered a similar amendment during the HASC markup, but the amendment was defeated at the committee level by voice vote.

Meanwhile, BRAC may get new life after HASC voted to keep it out of the 2018 NDAA. Now Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) has proposed to strike from the bill the section of the NDAA that would prevent BRAC, while Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), ranking member of HASC, wants to strike the section and also require DOD to submit a force structure plan that specifically considers BRAC.

The ongoing debate over the adequacy of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) was also represented in the proposed amendments. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) have proposed to repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs and replace them with a new consolidated AUMF that would apply to ongoing US actions against al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban. As proposed, the new AUMF would automatically terminate three years after its enactment.

The secrecy level of the Air Force’s B-21 bomber program also comes under fire from Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). He wants to limit the availability of funds to the program until the service makes public the value of the engineering and manufacturing development contract awarded to Northrop Grumman in 2015. In May, Bloomberg reported that the DOD Inspector General is investigating whether the program’s level of secrecy is too high.

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) wants an integrated missile defense system, including new Ground-Based Interceptors, for the east coast and Midwest of the US.

Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) has proposed to establish a National Russian Threat Response Center under the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) have proposed to reduce the overseas contingency operations (OCO) budget by $10 billion, which is the same amount that HASC proposed to raise OCO spending above President Donald Trump’s FY18 budget request.