- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 13, 2019

The House Armed Services Committee approved the establishment of a new branch of the military dedicated to space as part of the National Defense Authorization Act by a voice vote early Thursday morning.

The committee moved to create a Space Corps as an independent military branch under the Air Force, as the Marine Corps operates under the Navy.

The amendment’s co-sponsor, Rep. Jim Cooper, who has long spearheaded the Space Force within the House, said “the Space Corps is as close as we could make it to the proposal that passed this committee overwhelmingly,” pointing to the original concept passed in the House in 2017.

“It is not a $13 billion expenditure, a gold-plated plan like had been proposed to us by the secretary of the Air Force. It is instead a reorganization so that space professionals can be properly recognized for their skill and ability and promoted,” the Tennessee Democrat said.

The amendment restructures the existing military dedicated to space within the military so space professionals can be recognized and offered a separate promotion path, which both Mr. Cooper, and Alabama Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, have long lobbied for.

“This is the initial standing up of the service. We can come back next year and look at bringing those professionals in,” Mr. Rogers said.

The House’s amendment will appoint a four-star commandant for the Space Corps who would become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. While the move gained bipartisan support in the committee vote, it will have to survive a floor vote to be set in motion.

“This is going to be an evolving product over the next four to five years and we’re going to have time to deal with those,” Mr. Rogers said.

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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