The Obama administration is warning that House defense spending language for fiscal 2012 could, if enacted, delay or derail several military space and satellite programs.
According to the White House statement of administration policy over H.R. 2219, issued June 23, programs that could be affected include the Conventional Prompt Global Strike (CPGS), the Deep Space Climate Observatory (Dscovr) Spacecraft and the Assured Satcom Services in Single Theater (Assist).
Moreover, language pushing for a unilateral withdrawal by the U.S. from the-led (Meads) program with partners Germany and Italy could wind up costing more than the administration’s proposal to ride out its current stage of development, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) says. Such a move also “could call into question [the Pentagon’s] ability to honor its financial commitments in other binding cooperative [agreements] and have adverse consequences for other international cooperative programs.”
Regarding CPGS, the Obama White House reiterated an argument previously offered by its predecessor, the George W. Bush administration, that the current portfolio of mostly nuclear-oriented long-range strike systems “do not provide the president with a timely, global, non-nuclear strike capability to address fleeting, time-sensitive targets.” Deployment of new systems — like conventionally tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles based on land or at sea — could be delayed by two years under the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) markup.
For Dscovr, the White House says the HAC’s spending level for the Air Force’s Rocket Systems Launch Program would prevent the Pentagon from launching the refurbished spacecraft, part of an interagency partnership with the Commerce Department. Dscovr would provide forecasts of geomagnetic storm conditions and “imminent” warnings of adverse events like solar flares, ostensibly allowing operators to better protect U.S. military and economic assets like the commercial electric grid and communications and airline operations.
And for Assist, the OMB says that acquiring the satellite now planned as part of the program would be “far more cost-effective” than the committee’s alternative, which would result in the Pentagon continuing to lease commercial satellites while procuring athat would not be ready for “many” years.
Industry boosters also sounded alarm June 23 over effects to military space programs under the HAC legislation. “We understand the need for belt-tightening in today’s economic climate,” Aerospace Industries Association CEO Marion Blakey says. “However, we are deeply concerned that the cuts to national security space go too far.”
AIA says the bill’s reductions for space, not including classified programs, total nearly $600 million off the administration’s $10.2 billion request for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.
Besides fully funding the request, AIA called on lawmakers to fully back the Pentagon’s new Evolutionary Acquisition for Space Efficiency purchasing model (see AW&ST Dec. 13, 2010, p. 30).
Meanwhile, the administration statement also raised the prospect of a White House veto if the administration believes Congress gives it a bill that cuts into perceived presidential powers. But Key House appropriators, including fellow Democrats, demurred on such a showdown with President Barack Obama. Rep. Jim Moran (Va.), a senior Democrat on the defense spending subcommittee, says he is not worried about a veto since Congress and the White House typically come to an agreement on the annual defense spending bill.