The House approved a more than $590 billion Fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill on Thursday that largely ignores White House concerns with a vote of 325-98. Earlier this week, White House officials said they would recommend President Barack Obama veto the legislation if it did not include significant compensation reforms and continued to reject proposed cuts and reductions, such as divestiture of USAF’s A-10 fleet. However, the House bill moves funds from operations and maintenance accounts to keep the A-10s flying, going against the Pentagon’s recommendation. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) called the House bill “solid legislation, built after many long months of intensive oversight work.” Though he acknowledged it’s “not perfect legislation,” McKeon said the House had to make “too many cuts, too many hard tradeoffs, and too many reductions” to hit budget caps. HASC ranking member, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), voted in favor of the bill but said it was the “closest I’ve ever come to voting against the [defense authorization] bill,” saying the House rejected many of the hard choices it forced the Pentagon to make in its budgets. “We ducked every difficult decision,” he said, adding the House played “accounting games … as we stand by and wait for a miracle.” The Senate is marking up its version of the legislation this week.
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.