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Congress to create Space Force with 2020 defense spending bill

The House and Senate this week agreed in conference on details of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes funding for the Space Force.

By
Christen McCurdy
Lawmakers have struck a deal to create a sixth branch of the military -- the Space Force, which elevates sections of the Air Force -- in this year's defense spending bill, expected to go before the House Wednesday. Photo by Touch of Light/Wikipedia
Lawmakers have struck a deal to create a sixth branch of the military -- the Space Force, which elevates sections of the Air Force -- in this year's defense spending bill, expected to go before the House Wednesday. Photo by Touch of Light/Wikipedia

Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Congress approved the elevation of Air Force Space Command to a sixth branch of military in the 2020 defense policy bill, which is expected to go before the House and Senate for a vote sometime this week.

The deal was announced in a conference report and press statement on Tuesday that was released by the House and Senate armed services committees.

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The report supports a discretionary budget of $738 billion, including $71.5 billion for overseas contingency operations funding, as well as $5.3 billion in emergency disaster recovery for military installations across the country.

Lawmakers included language to prohibit any new billets, forcing the Department of Defense to draw from military personnel in existing space organizations.

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But it does create several new administrative positions, including a Chief of Space Operations who will report directly to the Secretary of the Air Force, as well as an Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy. The CSO also will become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The CSO will be required to report to Congress every 60 days with briefings and reports on progress of the establishment and implementation of the new branch.

The Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition will be required to integrate space systems across the national security apparatus, as well as synchronize with the Air Force on all space efforts and prepare to take over the appropriate systems and programs in October 2022.

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The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy will be the senior civilian in the Pentagon responsible for "oversight of space warfighting," according to the conference report summary.

The Congressional budget proposal includes $72.4 million to stand up a headquarters for the new branch.

Also included in the NDAA agreement, which covers spending for all agencies within the Department of Defense, is 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all federal employees, including civilians; required legal counsel for victims of domestic violence; and reforms to military housing.

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