Congressman Jim Bridenstine Releases Major Space Policy Legislation

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Today, Congressman Jim Bridenstine (OK-1) released the American Space Renaissance Act, groundbreaking legislation intended to permanently secure the United States as the world’s preeminent space-faring nation.  The comprehensive and bold reform bill covers national security, civil, and commercial space policies and programs.

Congressman Bridenstine said, “Space is critical to the American way of life.  Space-based technologies have transformed the way we communicate, navigate, conduct financial transactions, and fight wars.  In particular, people in my home state of Oklahoma need satellites to forecast severe weather like tornados, improve farming and oil and gas operations, and organize disaster relief.

“America has long dominated the ‘ultimate high ground’ of space.  However, space is becoming more congested, contested, and competitive.  Even so, private companies are developing revolutionary technologies – from reusable rockets to asteroid mining and human space habitats.  The American Space Renaissance Act makes comprehensive and bold policy advances and reforms necessary to ensure American leadership in space.”

The American Space Renaissance Act (ASRA) is organized as three titles:

Title I: National Security

Success on today’s battlefield depends on space-based capabilities from GPS, to weather, to imagery, to missile warning and communications.  Current Department of Defense (DOD) space systems are too vulnerable, expensive, and walled-off from each other.  ASRA provisions ensure the next generation will be more resilient, cheaper, and integrated. 

  • Requires military to use “hosted payloads” more frequently.  Hosted payloads are “ride sharing” arrangements whereby military systems are integrated into commercial satellites.
  • Starts a DOD pilot program to buy “venture class” launch services.  Venture class rockets launch small satellites faster and cheaper than traditional rockets. 
  • Starts a DOD pilot program to buy commercial weather data and services from the private sector. 

Title II: Civil

NASA is an exceptional and inspirational agency, but today it lacks a clear purpose.  Over the past two decades, NASA has cancelled 27 programs costing taxpayers billions of dollars.  Years of drift have left America relying on Russia to get our astronauts to space.  ASRA refocuses NASA’s energy on pioneering space to retire risk and commercialize programs.

  1. Provides a fixed term for the Administrator, as well as greater flexibility to deploy funds where most critical to provide NASA programs with certainty and stability.  Accountability provisions are also included.
  2. Deems Mars as NASA’s main human spaceflight priority, and requires plans and budgets consistent with that priority.
  3. Continues and expands NASA support for commercializing low earth orbit endeavors, including the creation of a pilot program for commercial habitats.

Title III: Commercial

The role of government in space has been to pioneer developments where cost and risks are too uncertain or too high for private industry to tackle.  As technologies mature and industry steps in with private capital formation, the government role should shift to facilitating private solutions and ensuring a transparent and light-touch regulatory environment.  It is practical and expedient for the government to increasingly buy data and services from commercial space companies.

  • Enhances regulatory certainty by adequately funding the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation and clarifying the legal framework for certain non-traditional activities like commercial habitats, resource extraction, and on-orbit servicing.
  • Builds a civilian and commercial capacity to provide robust space situational awareness, moving toward granting authority for space traffic management, in order to preserve access to the space environment.
  • Limits dependence on Russia by supporting a robust commercial domestic launch industry through a tax credit to incentivize payloads launched on American rockets.

More information is available on the website

Congressman Jim Bridenstine Supports Religious Freedom

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Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Zubik v. Burwell, a consolidated case including the Little Sisters of the Poor, Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU) and other Christian organizations.  The question is whether the Department of Health and Human Services, citing ObamaCare’s employer mandate, can legally force religious non-profits to take actions they believe to be morally wrong, specifically, providing or asking others to provide on their behalf, employer-sponsored health insurance that includes abortion-inducing drugs and other reproductive services.

Congressman Bridenstine said, “This case is a key test of First Amendment religious freedom protection, and of the intended, sweeping effect of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. In January, I joined with 207 members of the House and Senate in submitting a friend of the court brief in support of the Zubik v. Burwell petitioners.”

Four Oklahoma-based Christian universities including OKWU, located in Bartlesville in Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District, appealed to the Supreme Court after a federal appellate court overturned a favorable lower court ruling. The Supreme Court could issue a decision as early as June.

Congressman Jim Bridenstine Supports Shooting Sports and the 2nd Amendment

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Today the House of Representatives passed an important bill for sportsmen and supporters of the 2nd Amendment.  HR 2406 will increase opportunities for hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters, eliminate regulatory impediments, and safeguard against new regulations while protecting 2nd Amendment rights.

Congressman Bridenstine was congratulated on his support for the legislation by Dianna Muller from Tulsa, a world champion shooting sports competitor.

Dianna Muller retired from theTulsa Police Department after 22 years of service.  She is now in full-time pursuit of her passion “to introduce shooting sports and showcase gun owners and the 2nd Amendment in a positive light.”

Dianna is a world champion shooter in individual and team competitions. She led the Ladies Team USA to the gold medal in the World Shotgun Championships in Italy in 2015.  She also won the ladies division of the 2015 NRA World Shooting Championship individual competition, involving twelve different shooting disciplines.  As a professional 3-Gun competitor, she is a featured personality on the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel.


Congressman Jim Bridenstine Joins Senator Inhofe in Opposing Coal Restrictions

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Today, I joined Senator Jim Inhofe in an amicus brief urging the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate EPA’s so-called “Clean Power Plan.”  The proposed rules are a clear overreach of regulatory authority and part of the Obama Administration’s plan to shut down coal-fired power plants and continue its war on the poor and those on fixed incomes.

As Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Inhofe led the effort which was joined by 34 Senators and 171 House Members in support of petitions filed by 27 states seeking to overturn the EPA final rule.

The press release from the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee:

34 Senators, 171 Representatives File Amicus Brief, Urge Circuit Court to Block EPA Attempt to Transform the Nation’s Electricity Sector

Amicus Brief Asks the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to Vacate EPA’s So-Called “Clean Power Plan”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Led byU.S.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), 34 Senators and 171 House Members filed an amicus brieftoday in the case ofState of West Virginia, et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al.

The amicus brief is in support of petitions filed by 27 states seeking to overturn the EPA final rule identified as the Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units,EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602, 80 Fed. Reg. 64,662 (Oct. 23, 2015), also known as the “Clean Power Plan.” A copy of the brief can be found here.

As Senators and Representatives duly elected to serve in the Congress of the United States in which “all legislative Powers” granted by the Constitution are vested, the members state that:

The Final Rule goes well beyond the clear statutory directive by, among other things, requiring States to submit, for approval, state or regional energy plans to meet EPA’s predetermined CO2 mandates for their electricity sector. In reality, if Congress desired to give EPA sweeping authority to transform the nation’s electricity sector, Congress would have provided for that unprecedented power in detailed legislation. Indeed, when an agency seeks to make “decisions of vast ‘economic and political significance’” under a “long-extant statute,” it must point to a “clear” statement from Congress. Util. Air Regulatory Grp. v. EPA, 134 S.Ct. 2427, 2444 (2014) (quoting FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., 120 S. Ct. 1291, 1315 (2000)). EPA can point to no statement of congressional authorization for the Final Rule’s central features, precisely because there is none.

Nor has Congress authorized EPA to make the policy choices that are reflected in the Final Rule—a rule that imposes enormous costs on States and the public without achieving meaningful climate benefits. Because of the Final Rule, States will face unprecedented new regulatory burdens, electricity ratepayers will be subject to billions of dollars in compliance costs, and American workers and their families will experience the hardship of job losses due to power plant shutdowns, higher electricity prices, and overall diminishment of the nation’s global economic competitiveness. Choices of this nature are inherently Congressional decisions. See W. Minn. Mun. Power Agency v. Fed. Energy Regulatory Comm’n, 806 F.3d 588, 593 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (“Agencies are empowered to make policy only insofar as Congress expressly or impliedly delegates that power.”) (citing Util. Air Regulatory Grp., 134 S. Ct. at 2445 (2014)). Congress has not authorized EPA to make the central policy choices in the Final Rule and, in many respects, has affirmatively rejected those policies, as it certainly did with respect to cap-and-trade programs for CO2 emissions from power plants.

Accordingly, the Final Rule that has been properly stayed by the Supreme Court should now be vacated by this Court.

Additional Information:Thirty-nine lawsuits seeking review of the Final Rule have been consolidated in the D.C. Circuit. The Final Rule was stayed by the Supreme Court on Feb. 9. The D.C. Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the consolidated cases on June 2. An amicus brief, or “friend of the court” brief, can be filed in order to address concerns and advise the Court on a matter of law that directly affects the case at hand.



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Congressman Jim Bridenstine Cosponsors “Do Your Job” Act

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Congressman Jim Bridenstine commented, “Members of Congress represent their constituents most directly when they work through the process of appropriating funds for government programs.  I have long objected to ‘Continuing Resolutions’ and ‘Omnibus’ spending bills that sidestep this important representational process.” 

The ‘Do Your Job Act’, sponsored by Congressman Brad Wenstrup (OH) and cosponsored by Congressmen Jim Bridenstine (OK), Jim Jordan (OH), and Thomas Massie (KY), requires Congress to engage in the appropriation process.  If either the House or the Senate fails to vote on all 12 regular annual appropriations bills by the end of the fiscal year, Members of that chamber will not get paid.

Further information is provided in Congressman Wenstrup’s press release:

Wenstrup: Congress Fails to Even Get a Participation Trophy

House Members Propose Withholding Pay until Congress Votes on All Appropriations 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress fails to earn even a participation trophy, says Congressman Brad Wenstrup, and now he’s threatening to withhold Congressional paychecks until that improves.

Looking to end the last minute spending deals caused by a refusal to even vote on appropriation bills, Wenstrup is introducing the Do Your Job Act to return to encourage members to vote on spending bills well before funding runs out. Joined by Jim Bridenstine, Jim Jordan, and Thomas Massie, the legislation seeks to withhold pay from members of Congress if they failed to vote on each appropriation bill before the end of the fiscal year on September 30th.

“If we don’t fulfill the responsibilities of our office, we shouldn’t get paid. That may require some tough votes,” Wenstrup said, pointing to the fact that the Senate had voted on only two of sixty appropriations bills in the last five years. “A three percent participation rate in the Senate is unacceptable – that’s not even worthy of a participation trophy, let alone a paycheck.”

A critical part of the Do Your Job Act requires spending bills be open to amendments in the House, Wenstrup noted. “This means that no spending bill could be rushed into a simple up or down vote without an opportunity for members to offer amendments.”

Echoing No Budget, No Pay that passed in 2013, the Do Your Job Act would require each chamber vote on the twelve regular appropriations bills, ranging from Defense to Agriculture, by the end of the fiscal year. A failure to cast all twelve votes by either chamber would trigger a provision to withhold pay from members of that chamber.

“The American people are fed up with last second spending deals that don’t reflect their priorities,” Wenstrup said. “With a little incentive, I hope my colleagues in Washington may finally do the work the American people expect of us. We should vote well before last-minute deadlines so everyone has the opportunity to consider and debate how the government spends taxpayer money in an open and transparent way.”


Office of Representative Brad Wenstrup



Top U.S. General: 'I do not have authority' to offensively attack Taliban

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. military, since President Obama declared that American troops had ceased their combat mission at the end of 2014, has only been able to attack the Taliban from a defensive position, the top commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan told lawmakers.

“I have the authority to protect our coalition members against any insurgency — Haqqani [Network], Taliban, al Qaeda — if they’re posing as a threat to our coalition forces,” testified the commander, Gen. John Campbell, before the House Armed Services Committee.

The general’s comments came in response to Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK)96%
asking if he had the authority to attack the Taliban, which has stepped up attacks since the end of 2014 and has been linked to the deteriorating security conditions in the Afghanistan.

“If the Taliban are attacking coalition forces, then I have everything I need to do that,” responded Gen. Campbell, who is expected to retire soon. “To attack the Taliban just because they’re Taliban, I do not have that authority.”

“It is astonishing that we have an authority to go after the Taliban and the president is preventing us from doing that,” proclaimed Bridenstine.

The Oklahoma Republican argued that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) 2001, passed by Congress and signed into law by the U.S. president at the time, grants the top commander the authority to use the necessary force against the Taliban.

Rep. Bridenstine questioned, “Yet, the president, it seems, is saying you can’t attack the Taliban even though they were responsible for September 11?”

“What I think is we adjusted our mission in 2015,” explained Campbell. “We went away from combat operations and we worked with the Afghans to build their capabilities to go after the Taliban.”

President Obama declared an end to the U.S. combat mission in December 2014, marking the beginning of the train, assist, and advise (TAA) role for the American troops on January 1, 2015.

While testifying, Gen. Campbell noted that with only 9,800 U.S. service members in Afghanistan, carrying out the TAA mission is difficult.

“Again if the Taliban are attacking or pose a threat to coalition forces, I have everything I need to provide that force protection,” reiterated Campbell. “To go after the Taliban because they’re Taliban, I don’t do that sir.”

At least 21 American service members have been killed and another 79 wounded since President Obama adjusted the mission so that U.S. troops are unable to attack the Taliban from an offensive position. The majority of the total 2,227 American military deaths and 20,109 injuries since the war began in October 2001 have taken place under President Obama’s watch.

Rep. Bridenstine quoted the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) 2001.

“That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons,” states the AUMF.

The Taliban has been accused of providing safe haven to al Qaeda members involved in orchestrating the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. homeland, including the late jihadist leader Osama bin Laden.

President Obama is currently expected to reduce the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan to 5,500 troops by the time he left office in 2017.

“We’ll have a very limited ability to do TAA with 5,500,” said Gen. Campbell, who signaled that the U.S. military will stay in Afghanistan for years beyond 2017.

Obama has nominated Army Lt. Gen. John Nicholson, Jr., to replace the outgoing commander.

President Obama has been hesitant to call the Taliban a terrorist group.

Original Article on 

Omnibus bill cedes power to 'lawless' administration

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Just before Christmas, Congress passed a $1.15 trillion “omnibus” appropriations bill, funding all federal discretionary spending through Sept. 30, 2016. Members of Congress had less than 72 hours to read the 2,000-page bill, negotiated in secret by a small group of Congressional leaders and the White House. If you vote “Yes,” you fund the President’s liberal agenda. If you vote “No,” the government shuts down. By contrast, the government is supposed to be funded by 12 annual appropriations bills developed and passed individually with open amendments so members can represent their constituents. So what went wrong?

In collaboration with President Obama, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid blocked consideration of all appropriations bills during 2015. As the end of the fiscal year approached, with no money appropriated to fund the government beyond Sept. 30, House Leadership brought forward and passed a short-term continuing resolution, funding the government through Dec. 11. I voted no. Then Leadership brought forward another bill — the Bipartisan Budget Act — allowing spending increases in 2016 and 2017 and suspending the debt limit until March, 2017. Again, I voted no. House Leadership then developed and introduced a single, massive bill to fund the government for the rest of the 2016 fiscal year. This omnibus bill was passed on Dec. 17, 316 to 113. 94 Republicans joined me in voting no. The Omnibus bill was subsequently passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Obama.

The Omnibus bill included a few good provisions, notably an end to the 1975 ban on crude oil exports. However, all told, it is unconscionably bad for the United States, continuing reckless debt-financed spending that has the national debt headed past $20 trillion. The Omnibus bill funded all of President Obama’s priorities, including “Obamacare,” Planned Parenthood, the Iran nuclear deal, illegal amnesty, sanctuary cities and the Syrian refugee resettlement program. In approving the bill, the House again surrendered the power of the purse. That power, as James Madison observed in Federalist No. 58, is the most effective means of shaping federal priorities, including restraining a lawless administration that’s working overtime to fundamentally transform America.

When faced with a bad bill, the solution is to defeat it so that a better bill is brought forward for consideration. Faced with a broken appropriations process, the solution is for members to demand a return to regular order, meaning that each of the 12 annual appropriations bills is drafted, debated, and reported by the 12 subcommittees of jurisdiction within the full House Appropriations Committee and brought to the House Floor for open amendment, debate and passage.

Speaker Ryan has said he is committed to a regular order appropriations process for fiscal year 2017. I fully support that plan. However, the House leadership must announce now, before the FY2017 appropriations process begins, that the House will bring all 12 appropriations bills to the floor, pass them, send them to the Senate and then wait, for however long it may take, for the Senate to act. Everyone should understand up front that if the Senate refuses to take up appropriations bills this year, the House will not agree to a continuing resolution or omnibus. If the Senate refuses to act, and the government shuts down for lack of funding, the responsibility will lie squarely on the shoulders of Harry Reid and Barack Obama.

Sticking with this plan will require political courage rare in Washington, but Congress must stop putting Washington’s interests ahead of representational government. If America is to regain its historic exceptionalism, be true to the Constitution, and extend the blessings of the Founders’ vision to new generations of Americans, we cannot and must not continue down the reckless, destructive path we are on. Congress must reassert the power of the purse without delay. We must begin now.

Zero Tolerance for Weakness

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President Obama will do anything to save his potentially catastrophic Iran nuclear deal.  Secretary Kerry lauded Iran’s release of 10 U.S. Navy personnel this morning – though the President failed to acknowledge their detainment during his State of the Union address.  Kerry cited “relationship building” with Iran as the reason our sailors were quickly released. Ironically, repeated demonstration of American weakness provoked the Iranians into capturing them in the first place.

Iran flouted international law and custom by releasing photos of the sailors in execution-style positions, forcing one sailor to videotape a “confession” and coercing a female sailor to wear a Muslim-style head covering.   Centuries of custom and tradition ban using detainees for propaganda, as does the Geneva Convention.

The Navy incident is just the latest of Iran’s deliberate provocations:

Iran continues to support Hezbollah – a terrorist organization – fighting alongside Russia to prop up Bashar al-Assad’s repugnant regime in Syria.  Assad’s forces have killed over 250,000 people and caused a refugee crisis engulfing our European allies and soon coming to U.S. cities. 

  • A few days ago, Iran revealed an underground missile depot and President Rouhani ordered an expansion of Iran’s ballistic missile program.
  • In December, Iran fired several unguided rockets within 1,500 yards of a U.S. aircraft carrier. 
  • Last October, Iran tested sophisticated long-range ballistic missiles potentially able to carry nuclear warheads in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
  • Four Americans still languish in Iranian prisons

When attempting to sell the nuclear deal, President Obama promised that non-nuclear sanctions on human rights, terrorism, and missile development would be “fully enforced.”  Yet, the Administration has not kept this promise.  No new sanctions have been levied.  Even many Congressional Democrats are utterly mystified by Obama’s non-response to clear provocations.  In fact, Obama’s response is to prepare a $150 billion sanctions-relief payment to the mullahs.  In a few days, the Administration will reward Iran’s behavior with billions of dollars to finance its terrorism machine, nuclear weapons program and missile development.      

Obama and Kerry are naïve to think backing down on sanctions, issuing statements thanking Iran for its offensive and illegitimate behavior, and proceeding to give them billions in sanctions relief is seen as anything other than capitulation by Iran and its neighbors.

Congress needs to condemn Obama’s willingness to ignore bad behavior by the world’s foremost sponsor of Islamic terrorism. .  The first thing Congress should do is pass new sanctions consistent with the President’s promise to uphold sanctions on human rights, terrorism and missile development.  When the President vetoes the bill, he will have to explain why he has broken his promises.

I am leading bipartisan legislation, HR 4333, the Zero Tolerance for Terror Act, to set up legislative fast track for imposing new sanctions on Iran.  I’ve also co-sponsored legislation, HRes 571, to establish a Select Committee to oversee the implementation of the nuclear agreement.      

Under Obama and Kerry, those using military force, proxies and terror to advance their political and territorial ambitions no longer fear us. If America is to once again be secure, and the world a less dangerous place, our next president must reverse Obama’s failed policy of appeasement.