An area congressman’s attempt to study the creation of a Space Corps before pushing ahead to launch it as a military branch has failed to gain congressional backing.
U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said he was disappointed the House Rules Committee decided this week to prevent consideration of his amendment to the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act for debate in the full House.
The House was expected to vote this week on the defense authorization bill, which includes the launch of a Space Corps in 2019. Advocates say a separate branch would be most effective to deal with eroding U.S. space capabilities.
Turner, chairman of the House Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee, said in a statement to this newspaper Thursday he added the amendment after speaking to Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. She traveled to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in late June for the yearly Corona Top conference of senior Air Force civilian and military leaders. While there, Turner said he spoke with Wilson about her opposition to a Space Corps.
“I agreed that Congress had not yet conducted the proper due diligence to warrant the establishment of a new service branch,” he said in an email. The White House and Defense Secretary James Mattis reportedly backed Turner’s attempt.
In an exclusive interview with the Dayton Daily News last month, Wilson noted she was opposed to more “bureaucracy” a Space Corps would add.
“We’re moving forward to acquire better and faster, to train … space warfighters because we’re going to have to defend satellites we have in space to organize effectively and I don’t need more bureaucracy imposed by others,” she said. “I need to be able to move forward.”
The Air Force has hiked spending on space capabilities about 20 percent this year, Wilson said.
“Our adversaries know that we depend very heavily on space and we’re vulnerable there, so we have to take that seriously and prepare for that,” she said. “I think the Air Force is doing that.”
In a joint statement last month, U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., and Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., chairman and ranking member respectively of the House Strategic Forces subcommittee, lobbied for the creation of a Space Corps, which would be part of the Department of the Air Force much as the Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy.
Rogers and Cooper said the U.S. advantage in space was “eroding.” The Department of Defense has not effectively responded to growing threats and has not put in place needed organizational changes, they added.
“The adversary will continue to build capabilities to hold our space assets at risk,” they said in a June 20 statement. “For that reason, we must act now to fix national security space and put in place a foundation for defending space as a critical element of national security.”