President Trump’s pick to lead the Pentagon’s new Space Command, Gen. John Raymond, on Monday said he is “eager” for Congress to break a deadlock holding up the massive 2020 National Defense Authorization Act so work can begin on establishing a Space Force.
“I’m really eager for Congress to pass this NDAA so we can have the Space Force,” Gen. Raymond said at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“What we’re looking to do is to elevate space and separate it from the Air Force and have a singularly focused service focused on this domain,” he continued.
Supporters of the new Space Force military branch argue Russian and Chinese efforts to militarize space are already chipping away at America’s dominance.
The four-star general’s comments come as time is about to run out on an existing temporary budget that the Pentagon has been operating on since October. The House this week will vote on another continuing resolution before the current solution expires on Thursday.
One key sticking point that is holding up ongoing negotiations for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is how to fund Mr. Trump’s proposed Space Force.
The Senate included legislation in its version to create a space command as a branch under the Air Force, evolving over time into an independent Space Force branch.
The House’s version, meanwhile, establishes a Space Corps that more closely mirrors the administration’s original proposal.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith told reporters last week that there is “bipartisan concern on the proposal and bicameral concern about the specifics of that proposal.”
The Washington state Democrat added, “There are still a lot of people in the House and in the Senate who are worried about it, on the specifics of how it’s implemented, how much does it cost, how much more bureaucracy does it put in.”
Gen. Raymond said that the ideal model is “very similar to the Navy-Marine Corps model,” where the Marine Corps is housed within the larger branch of the Navy.
The White House reinstituted the U.S. Space Command earlier this year, putting it on par with organizations like U.S. Central Command and U.S. Cyber Command as part of Mr. Trump’s push to create the U.S. Space Force as the first new U.S. military branch in seven decades.