Top Armed Services Republican: 'I don't think anybody is satisfied' with Space Force proposal

The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee said Tuesday that he doesn’t think “anybody is satisfied” with the Trump administration’s Space Force proposal.

Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryHillicon Valley: Schumer questions Army over use of TikTok | Federal court rules against random searches of travelers' phones | Groups push for election security funds in stopgap bill | Facebook's new payment feature | Disney+ launch hit by glitches Retirements pose threat to cybersecurity expertise in Congress Trump urges allies to not 'be led into the fools trap' of saying Ukraine call 'was not perfect, but is not impeachable' MORE (R-Texas) told reporters that he expects the broad outlines of the proposal -- to have a military branch for space under the Department of the Air Force -- will be taken up by the House, but that lawmakers will change specifics within the plan.

“I am not and I don’t think anybody is satisfied with the state of the proposal that initially came over,” Thornberry said. “They got directed to send it over like 10 days before it came, so ... the Air Force acknowledges that it was not fleshed out the way it should be and vetted.”

ADVERTISEMENT

In February, the Pentagon officially delivered to Congress its legislative proposal to fulfill President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE’s order to establish Space Force. Unlike Trump’s original pledge to have the service be “separate but equal” from the Air Force, the final proposal calls for Space Force to remain under the Department of the Air Force in a structure similar to the Marine Corps’ relationship to the Navy.

That idea closely follows the House’s 2017 plan for a space corps, which passed the lower chamber but failed to get off the ground because of bipartisan opposition in the Senate.

The Space Force proposal will face likely its toughest audience Thursday when Pentagon officials testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The panel is composed of members of both sides of the aisle who question whether any separate military service is the most cost-effective way to improve the military’s operations in space.

In the House, Armed Services Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithJudd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem 'Marketplace of ideas' turns 100 — it's not what it used to be Overnight Defense: Pentagon says Syrian oil revenue going to Kurdish forces | GOP chair accuses Dems of using Space Force as leverage in wall fight | Dems drop plans to seek Bolton testimony MORE (D-Wash.) has described the proposal as top-heavy, and said that the end result will be different than what the White House envisioned. He has also cited the proposal’s inclusion of broad authority to transfer funding and waive civil service rules as reasons he thinks it is “highly problematic.”

Thornberry’s comments  on Tuesday show there are bipartisan concerns with the specifics on both sides of the Capitol.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I have no doubt there will be changes to what the administration sent over,” he said, specifically calling out the transfer authority issue.

Still, Thornberry, alluding to the House’s space corps idea, said “this committee was there first and believes still that a separate organization focused on space is what we need to do.”

He said he has faith in Reps. Jim CooperJames (Jim) Hayes Shofner CooperOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Buttigieg targets Warren, Sanders on health care ahead of debate | Judge overturns ObamaCare transgender protections | Poll sees support drop for 'Medicare for All' The Memo: Democrats plunge into politics of impeachment Taylor Swift 'obsessed' with politics, says she's cautious about celebrity support backfiring for Democrats MORE (D-Tenn.) and Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersThe Hill's Campaign Report: Red-state governors races pose test for Trump Trump takes pulse of GOP on Alabama Senate race Overnight Defense: House approves Turkey sanctions in rebuke of Trump | Trump attacks on Army officer testifying spark backlash | Dems want answers from Esper over Ukraine aid MORE (R-Ala.), the current and former chairmen of the Armed Services subcommittee with oversight of space, to work out the details.

“It doesn’t mean they’re going to solve every problem in space,” Thornberry said. “But it means that, I think, our committee can start out on a good track and take the essential steps that need to be taken now even though there will undoubtedly more that is added to it as time goes on.”