Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast News Update
By Space Coast Daily // July 9, 2015
Brevard Leaders take trip to Washington D.C.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA — During the week of June 8, the EDC led a group of elected officials and civic leaders from Brevard County on its 12th annual trip to Washington, DC.
The group included Brevard County Commissioners Jim Barfield and Curt Smith, Canaveral Port Authority Commissioner Wayne Justice, and representatives from the Melbourne Regional Chamber of Commerce, Greater Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce, Cocoa Beach Chamber of Commerce, and local industry.
The group met with representatives from NASA, Thales, Harris Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and SpaceX; as well as Air Force and Navy leaders at the Pentagon, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, FAA; and elected officials Senator Bill Nelson, Congressman Bill Posey, Federal Liaison from Governor Rick Scott’s DC office, and staff members of Senator Marco Rubio.
Export-Import Bank – Both the House and Senate left Washington, DC on June 25 for a week long break for the Independence Day holiday without passing a reauthorization for the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, allowing the Bank’s charter to expire on July 1.
The bank will continue to service existing loans, but will be unable to initiate new deals until the charter is reauthorized. There is sufficient bipartisan support to reauthorize Ex-Im, if given a vote.
A procedural test vote in the Senate showed support from 65 Senators to extend Ex-Im and nearly 250 House Members have signed onto bills supporting reauthorization.
The way ahead for Ex-Im is uncertain, but the most likely path is for reauthorization to be included in the federal highway bill, which is expected to pass by the end of July.
FY 2016 Defense Budget – The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is on pace to be passed for the 54th consecutive year.
On June 18, the Senate passed the NDAA for FY 2016. The bill authorizes $612 billion funding for the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy (DOE).
The House of Representatives passed their NDAA bill by a vote on May 19th. Like the Senate bill, the House version authorizes a total of $612 billion, with $515 billion in base defense spending, $89.2 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), and $7.7 billion for DOE programs.
On June 25, House and Senate Armed Services Committee announced the beginning of the conference committee to resolve differences between the two versions.
The House passed FY 2016 Defense Appropriations bill on June 11th. In total, the bill provides $578.6 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $24.4 billion over FY 2015 enacted level and $800 million above the President’s budget request.
This total includes $88.4 billion in OCO funding. On the same day, the Senate Appropriations Committee favorably reported the Defense Appropriations bill. The Senate bill would appropriate $575.9 bill, with $489.1 billion in base funding and $86.9 billion for OCO.
In order to increase defense spending without violating sequestration caps, the House and Senate both added over $35 billion in OCO funds to pay for base defense spending shortfalls. OCO, as war funding, is exempt for the sequester caps.
This is a short term solution for funding defense needs in lieu of repealing or replacing sequestration. President Obama opposes this maneuver and has threatened to veto defense bills which use OCO funds to skirt sequestration and pay for base spending.
Senate Democrats have also said they will block the Defense Appropriations bill unless there is a fix for sequestration for both defense and non-defense discretionary spending.
Space Coast Military Construction Projects – The $21 million Range Communications Facility (RCF) Military Construction project at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the $3.4 million Air Crew Life Support Facility project for Patrick Air Force Base are fully authorized in both the House and Senate NDAA bills.
Both projects are fully funded in the House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, which was passed on April 30.
The Senate bill was approved by the Subcommittee in May, but has not yet been considered by the full Appropriations Committee.
RD-180 Rocket Engine Replacement – On June 26, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on replacing the Russian made RD-180 rocket engine, which is used in the Atlas V rocket.
In response to Russian actions in Ukraine, Congress passed an NDAA provision last year requiring the Department of Defense to develop a kerosene-fueled rocket engine to replace the RD-180 by 2019.
During the hearing, Air Force leaders including General John Hyten, Commander of Air Force Space Command, and representatives from industry stressed the difficulty of hitting that deadline. According to the Air Force, even an American made copy of the RD-180 would take years to develop due to changes in engineering and supply chain.
The Air Force and United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing which provides the Atlas V, are seeking an extension to 2022 to ease the transition to new technologies and maintain assured access to space.
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