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Congressman Jim Bridenstine Celebrates Signing of the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act

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Last evening, President Trump signed into law H.R. 353, the Lucas-Bridenstine Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act.

Congressman Jim Bridenstine:  “This legislation prioritizes improving weather forecasts and opens opportunities for new and innovative sources of weather information.  I congratulate President Trump for moving us closer to a day when we have zero deaths from tornadoes and severe weather events.” 


This legislation directs the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to focus resources and effort to:

  • Rebalance NOAA funding to place a higher priority on weather-related research and activities;
  • Emphasize developing accurate forecasts and timely warnings of high-impact weather events;
  • Create programs to extend warning lead times and improve forecasts for tornadoes and hurricanes;
  • Develop a plan to utilize advanced technology to regain U.S. superiority in weather modeling and forecasts;
  • Increase focus and continue development of seasonal forecasts and how to maximize information from these forecasts; and
  • Enhance coordination among various federal government weather stakeholders.

The legislation also authorizes and extends a NOAA pilot program already underway thanks to a partnership between the House Science Space and Technology and the House Appropriations Committee. Under this pilot program, NOAA has already issued two contracts to procure commercial satellite weather data. This pilot program could bring about a paradigm shift in how NOAA makes decisions about future procurement of critical weather data.

The Washington Post called this “the first major piece of weather legislation adopted since the early 1990s.”   

Bridenstine added, “This legislation is the product of a bipartisan effort that spans nearly my entire career in Congress.  I appreciate Chairman Lamar Smith, Congressman Frank Lucas, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, and the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee for their unflagging efforts to support this Act, now the law of the land.  This is a big step toward improving our weather data, models and forecasts -- and saving lives.” 

Statement on the Confirmation of Neil Gorsuch

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I congratulate the Senate and Judge Neil Gorsuch on his confirmation to serve as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  He is an eminently qualified individual with impeccable credentials and a superb record of scholarly, constitutional jurisprudence.  We can expect Neil Gorsuch to uphold the constitution and apply the law equally and fairly to all citizens.

Statement on Obamacare Repeal

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The vote on the American Healthcare Act is a very tough decision.  As the Representative of the First District of Oklahoma, my philosophy has been to fight for the most conservative option possible, and I often vote “No” to get to a “better Yes”.  Today, I decided the American Healthcare Act is the best “Yes” that the House is able to accomplish legislatively at this time.  Conservatives worked very hard to improve this bill, and while we hoped for a better bill, this is a dramatic improvement over Obamacare.

Obamacare is collapsing on itself with massive increases in premiums and deductibles so high that some families are effectively uninsured.  Many states have lost health insurance providers where companies cannot afford to offer Obamacare-compliant policies.  A third of all counties, including every county in Oklahoma, have only one provider on the exchanges this year and another third have only two.  Seven years ago, Obamacare took over nearly 20 percent of the U.S. economy, and unwinding that tangled system is extremely complex.

This bill effectively repeals the individual and employer mandates, cuts $1 trillion in taxes, and reduces the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars over ten years.  The bill fundamentally transforms Medicaid from an open-ended and unsustainable entitlement to a State-centered system which caps the Federal contribution and maximizes flexibility for the States.  The Medicaid reforms alone will save trillions over the long-term, help move millions of people onto private insurance, and preserve the safety net for the most vulnerable.

Most important to me, this bill prohibits funds from going to the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, and redirects federal funding to Community Health Centers.  This provision alone merits support even though the bill falls short of what conservatives wanted to accomplish.

I am disappointed that this legislation did not include provisions to repeal the Obamacare health insurance regulations which are the root cause of skyrocketing premiums and employers dropping coverage.  Fortunately, Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, will exercise his authority under the law to remove costly Obamacare regulations.  I also have great reservations about the bill’s refundable tax credit scheme, which is essentially a different version of the Obamacare subsidy program.

In my judgment though, this is the opening legislative salvo of the Trump Presidency, and we cannot let it fail when we do not have a shot at a better option.  Therefore, I will vote “Yes”. 

Congressman Jim Bridenstine at Signing of NASA Reauthorization

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Today Congressman Jim Bridenstine was a guest at the signing ceremony in the White House as President Trump signed into law S. 442, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017.

“For our space program to be successful, NASA needs consistency in its mission,” said Congressman Bridenstine. “The NASA Transition Authorization Act keeps a mission to Mars as NASA’s horizon goal, supporting the critical deep space exploration systems as well as partnerships with industry that will make this horizon goal successful. This bill also recognizes the importance of the Moon in these plans as well as the role NASA plays in lowering barriers to access for other actors in space.”

S. 442 includes several provisions from Congressman Bridenstine’s American Space Renaissance Act, H.R. 4945 from the 114th Congress:

  • Launch Indemnification: Allows the NASA Administrator to determine a maximum probable loss for a launch, and set the insurance requirements to that determination. This provides flexibility to launch providers and could potentially lead to cheaper launches.
  • Orbital debris removal: Calls for a review of concepts and technologies for removing existing orbital debris, enhancing the safety of the space environment.
  • ISS transition plan: Requires NASA to develop a plan to transition from NASA sponsorship of the ISS to other regimes, critical to ensure the United States does not suffer a gap in low Earth orbit presence.
  • Venture Class launch: Indicates Congress’ support for the Venture Class Launch Services program, a key program to enhance the domestic commercial launch industry and ensure we have necessary capabilities in the United States.

Securing America Town Hall

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Congressman Jim Bridenstine invites the entire 1st District to a Town Hall meeting focusing on Securing America, Tuesday evening April 11th, 6:30-8:00 PM, at the Mabee Center in Tulsa.

How we address ISIS, Russian aggression, and the crisis on our southern border are critical to both our national security and national sovereignty. Bridenstine invites his constituents to hear his perspective and share their concerns on these and other issues facing our country.

Congressman Jim Bridenstine represents Oklahoma's 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, he has been an outspoken advocate for national security and national sovereignty.

When and Where:          Tuesday, April 11th    6:30-8:00 PM    Mabee Center, 81st and Lewis, Tulsa

Congressman Jim Bridenstine Votes to End Veterans Gun Ban, Restore Accountability at VA

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Today, Congressman Jim Bridenstine, a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, voted to protect Second Amendment rights for veterans and restore accountability at the Veterans Administration.

H.R. 1181 would end the Obama Administration’s Veterans Gun Ban by restoring constitutional due process protections for veterans.  VA has reported hundreds of thousands of veterans to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) simply because they have a fiduciary to handle their benefits earned through service.  In 2016 alone, VA registered 32,000 veterans on NICS which prevents them from buying or owning firearms.

Congressman Bridenstine said, “The Obama Administration’s Veterans Gun Ban undermines Second Amendment rights for our veterans and is back-door gun control.  Judges should make mental incapacity determinations subject to due process, not VA bureaucrats.”

H.R. 1259 gives the VA Secretary authority to fire, demote, or suspend VA employees for poor performance or misconduct using expedited procedures.

Congressman Bridenstine said, “While most VA employees work hard to serve our veterans, the VA Secretary should be able to quickly remove and discipline the bad apples.  We need accountability at the VA.  The House has passed similar legislation each year I’ve been in Congress.  There’s no excuse for not getting this legislation to President Trump’s desk.”     

Bridenstine on FAA/AST Transcript

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Mr. Bridenstine - It is my honor. Thank you. Chairman Diaz-Balart, Ranking Member Price, Mr. Culberson and Mr. Valadao, it's an honor to be here.

I wanted to bring up something regarding infrastructure that a lot of people don't think about. When you think about infrastructure, when you think about roads, and bridges, highways, we think about hospitals and schools. One piece of infrastructure that I think a lot of people don't consider is launch.

Space has transformed our way of life. The way we communicate, the way we navigate, the way we produce food, the way we produce energy, the way we provide security, do disaster relief, the way we do banking depends on GPS for example.

All of these capabilities require infrastructure and as you look how things are moving forward now, what used to be the domain of government, space, is now the domain of private operators and commercial operators. And when you think about things like remote sensing and imagery, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency now uses a commercial space program to buy data from commercial providers for intelligence. When you think about communications the Department of Defense, for its routine communications, uses about 80% commercial satellites. Satellites that are launched to provide broadband from space, DirectTV, the internet, are now being leased by the Department of Defense to provide communication capabilities for the warfighter.

When you talk about all different sorts of activities happening in space commercial providers are now carrying a heavy load. What we need to do within the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation is make sure that they are adequately funded for all the upcoming launches. Everything I just described is historical. When you think about the future, we're talking about hundreds if not thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit for remote sensing and imagery.

When you think about communications we're talking about hundreds many, many thousands of satellites. Boeing has a program, OneWeb has a program, SpaceX has a program. Each one of these low earth orbit communications constellations constitutes multiple thousands of satellites in low earth orbit that all are going to require launch and these companies are contracting overseas.

In fact, last week American companies building imagery satellites for purposes that the Department of Defense will use, launched 96 American satellites on a foreign rocket. An Indian rocket to be precise. OneWeb has contracts worth billions of dollars with the Russians because we don't have the capability here in the United States to deliver what they need. So, the office of Commercial Space Transportation, which is within the FAA, in my estimation needs to be fully and adequately funded just so that we can go forward with these new programs that are going to change the way we think about space.

And of course, where does that begin?

The Office of Commercial Space Transportation within the FAA is the regulatory body. That is true. But they are also the body that is necessary to promote and facilitate commercial space industry. Right now, they are funded under a Continuing Resolution at a level that I believe is inadequate.

Last year I came to this committee and I requested 19.8 million dollars which don't seem like a big number. But that is what was in the President's budget request and what the appropriations process came to was an amount less than that and then you guys delivered and I thank you for that. The challenge is operating under a Continuing resolution that 19.8 million dollars never materialized.

So I would ask this year to take care of these needs that are transforming the way we think about space and the way it's transforming the human condition on Earth.  I am requesting that the office of Commercial Space Transportation within the FAA, sometimes call FAA/AST, be funded to the tune of 23 million dollars. With that, I'll be open to any questions.

Mr. Price - Let me just say I thank the gentleman for his testimony, it's very convincing.  Am I to conclude also that you will strongly back picking up the remaining five months of the current fiscal year to take advantage of the appropriations bill that would be concluded in an Omnibus, as opposed to a year-long CR?

Mr. Bridenstine - I will tell you I don't like doing CRs. I will also tell you that what we need to do is go through the appropriations process because as I've just described the world has changed and we need to make sure that what we are funding as a government reflects that change. I don't want to do a CR. If we do an omnibus and the priorities in there are appropriate I'm certainly willing to consider it.

Mr. Price - You are giving us a very good example of why a serious appropriations bill with the detailed work that goes into it is preferable to automatic pilot.

Mr. Bridenstine - Absolutely, yes sir, and I fully appreciate you making that comment.

Mr. Price - Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Diaz-Balart - Thank you, Mr. Price, and I will tell you [Mr. Bridenstine] that you have been very effective working with this subcommittee and we appreciate your involvement and we appreciate your hard work and look forward to continuing doing so. And we agree with you a CR - a lot of folks don't understand how devastating a CR is in so many ways. But again, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank you for your hard work particularly with your involvement with this subcommittee.  It's greatly appreciated.  

Mr. Bridenstine - Thank you for your support.

Mr. Culberson - I also want to thank you Jim for your support for NASA, for the space program, and your understanding of the changing times in which we live the commercial sector is going to be getting us into low Earth orbit like it's stepping out in front of the Rayburn building like catching a cab you'll be able to catch a commercial ride into low Earth orbit. And you're exactly right this agency needs to be, this portion of the FAA needs to be fully funded and really appreciate your support for getting a detailed appropriations bills on the floor not only this one but the Commerce, Justice, Science bill as well.

Mr. Bridenstine - Would the gentleman yield for 15 seconds? When you think about NASA, this agency [FAA/AST] is critical for NASA to accomplish its mission because NASA is using commercial to get back and forth to the International Space Station.  This agency could make that problematic if it’s not adequately funded. It’s not just NASA though it’s also the Department of Defense, it’s the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. This agency touches all of those and more which is why it's so important.

Mr. Culberson - I deeply appreciate your support for it and I want to also wish Jim good luck in his and I strongly support his application to become the new NASA administrator.  Jim would do a superb job with that position and I want to strongly express my endorsement and support for your work and I hope to see you become the new NASA administrator and look forward to helping you in that role.

Mr. Diaz-Balart - Thank you very much. With Mr. Culberson's strong endorsement, I think the gentleman who is testifying has had a good day.

Provisions from American Space Renaissance Act Included in NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017

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March 7th, the House of Representatives passed S. 442, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017, passed by the Senate in February. The bill will now go to the President for his signature.

For our space program to be successful, NASA needs consistency in its mission. The NASA Transition Authorization Act keeps a mission to Mars as NASA’s horizon goal, supporting the critical deep space exploration systems as well as partnerships with industry that will make this horizon goal successful. This bill also recognizes the importance of the Moon in these plans as well as the role NASA plays in lowering barriers to access for other actors in space.


S. 442 includes several provisions from my American Space Renaissance Act, H.R. 4945 introduced in the 114th Congress:

  • Launch Indemnification: Allows the NASA Administrator to determine a maximum probable loss for a launch, and set the insurance requirements to that determination. This provides flexibility to launch providers and could potentially lead to cheaper launches.
  • Orbital debris removal: Calls for a review of concepts and technologies for removing existing orbital debris, enhancing the safety of the space environment.
  • ISS transition plan: Requires NASA to develop a plan to transition from NASA sponsorship of the ISS to other regimes, critical to ensure the United States does not suffer a gap in low Earth orbit presence.
  • Venture Class launch: Indicates Congress’ support for the Venture Class Launch Services program, a key program to enhance the domestic commercial launch industry and ensure we have necessary capabilities in the United States.