WASHINGTON — The House Science Committee is expected to approve a bill that seeks to improve regulation of commercial space activities, but not without criticism from some within the industry.
The American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act, H.R. 2809, was formally introduced June 7 by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Science Committee. The bill has eight other co-sponsors, including space subcommittee chairman Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a member active on space issues who remains a leading candidate to be named NASA administrator. The bill has bipartisan support and is expected to clear the committee during a June 8 markup and go to the full House.
The bill seeks to streamline the process of licensing for commercial remote sensing satellites, currently handled by an office within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It also sets up a similar “certification” system for commercial payloads not otherwise licensed by the government, addressing an industry concern about a regulatory gap for “non-traditional” applications like satellite servicing, commercial space stations and lunar landers.
“The bill establishes a favorable legal and policy environment for free enterprise with maximum certainty and minimum burden for stakeholders,” said Smith in a statement June 7 announcing the bill’s introduction. “This enterprising bill provides an efficient, transparent, and streamlined structure for authorizing and supervising future space activities to create the path for future exploration of the final frontier.
Scott Garrett is an excellent choice to head the Export Import Bank. He has studied the Bank's operations and understands its intended purpose. Scott is a reformer. In this position he will make the reforms necessary to build confidence among Members of Congress and preserve the ExIm Bank for its intended purpose.
Today I voted for the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The bill passed in the U.S. House by a margin of 217 to 213. Six weeks ago I decided the original bill was better than allowing Obamacare to collapse under its own weight. Since then I have been pleased to work with conservative colleagues to improve the AHCA to enable Americans to have more choices at lower costs.
Obamacare has devastated the individual health insurance market. In Oklahoma, premium increases averaged over 70 percent this year, and we have only one provider on the exchange.
The amended bill immediately eliminates Obamacare taxes, protects individuals with pre-existing conditions, lowers costs, and reforms Medicaid to give states more flexibility. Although this is not a full repeal of Obamacare, it does allow the states to undo the most costly aspects of Obamacare that are hurting American families.
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 all that conservatives wanted to accomplish.
I commend President Trump for declaring that it is the policy of his administration to protect and promote religious liberty. The President acknowledged that this is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution.
Today’s Executive Order diminishes the threat of losing tax exempt status that has discouraged religious leaders from speaking out about political issues from the pulpit. It also removes the regulation that required religious organizations to pay for abortifacients in violation of their beliefs.
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.”
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.
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”.
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.