September 17, 2021

Members of Congress have asked the Biden administration to keep legislative committees informed about space operations

2 min read

House Republicans on the panel that governs civil as well as commercial space are requesting an update from the Biden administration on its preparations for traffic management and space security. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma) as well as Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), top officials of the House Committee on the Science, Space, and Technology’s space as well as aeronautics subcommittee, requested the Defense and the State Departments for information on their efforts to propose rules and procedures for space operations on March 5.

The lawmakers stated in letters to the Secretary of State Antony Blinken as well as the Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that their committee has been “significantly active in the creation of rules of conduct in space” for decades and plans to continue. Lucas and Babin inquired about the United States’ intentions to draft legislation in reply to the United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for space-related norms.

These measures were explored in a Feb. 24 SpaceNews interview with Maj Gen DeAnna Burt, who is the commander of United States Space Command’s Combined Force Component Command. A code of conduct, according to Burt, is required to keep space secure for civil, commercial, as well as military operations.

The committee needs to make sure that attempts to control space activities are organized with Congress because they “will have a huge effect on not only the potential of US government space activities but also the capacity of the US private space sector to continue to thrive.” The letters also refer to Biden’s “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance,” which was published last week and shows support for space norms.

“Any proposal offered to the United Nations that is not coordinated with the Congress, particularly the House Committee which deals with Science, Space, and Technology, could confuse, impede the enactment of laws enforcing such initiatives, and clash with existing statutes policies, as well as constitutional rights,” Babin and Lucas wrote.

“Failure to keep Congress updated could also be interpreted as an effort to restrict private sector activities and weaken the rights of US people by using treaties to bypass Congress’s Article 1 prerogatives,” they cautioned. The committee requested that the Department of Defense and the Department of State send any proposed language or even the draft documents for a formal meeting to the United Nations by March 12.

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