WASHINGTON: After holding his fire since the budget release, the head of the House Armed Services Committee today made clear he’ll oppose the Trump Administration’s Space Force proposal. Rep. Adam Smith waited until the day before Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan appears before his committee with Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, to begin hammering out the 2020 defense budget and the NDAA.
You can expect Smith to table a separate bill on the Space Force. It will not be included in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act, I understand.
The Trump proposal includes language about the Space Force’s civilian workforce that the Democrats just can’t stomach. In his statement, Smith says that “a large part of the proposal is an attack on the rights of DoD civilian employees. It asks for broad authority to waive long-standing and effective elements of civil service rules, pay rates, merit-based hiring, and senior civilian management practices.”
Smith said he “hoped that President Trump and DoD would exercise careful consideration and develop a realistic path forward. However, the details of the Space Force proposal sent to Congress by the President are highly problematic.”
He repeated earlier criticisms that it would be led by two four-star generals and a new top top civilian, an Air Force undersecretary. He characterized that as, “a top-heavy bureaucracy for a force of 16,000.”
On top of that, Smith castigated another proposal of the Trump Space Force, “an almost unlimited seven-year personnel and funding transfer authority that seeks to waive a wide range of existing laws — all without a detailed plan or analysis of the potential end state or cost.”
Add the relative lack of interest about a Space Force in the Senate and I think Rep. Jim Cooper’s optimism about passage of Space Force language in this year’s NDAA appears, at the most optimistic reading, misplaced.