June 14 (UPI) -- The House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment for funding in the defense spending bill for a Space Corps.
The committee unanimously passed the measure after a one-hour debate. In a 21-hour markup session that ended late Thursday, the National Defense Authorization Act was passed by 33 votes to 24.
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., offered the measure as Strategic Forces subcommittee chairman, with Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn. Establishment of a military space force with status equal to the branches of the U.S. armed forces was proposed in February by President Donald Trump.
"I am thrilled my colleagues on HASC recognize the importance of focusing on this proposal," Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., said in a statement. "As I have said time and time again, the future of warfighting will be fought in space. Russia and China are surpassing us in space capabilities and we must have a military branch focused solely on this mission."
The language in the bill calls for a space force within the Department of the Air Force, a civilian secretary and a four-star general as commandant. It will include personnel and assets of the Air Force, but not of the National Reconnaissance Office or the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
The bill provides for a two-year transition period from Air Force guidance to separate military department, beginning in January 2021.
The plan is smaller than Trump's proposal, and differs from the Senate Armed Service Committee plan, however.
"The Space Corps is as close as we could make it to the proposal that passed this committee overwhelmingly," Cooper said after the vote. "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."