U.S. House of Representatives approved a $696 billion defense bill on Friday that includes a provision to build a newest branch of the military -- dubbed "Space Corps"--that would focus on space operations. But the initiative still faces an uphill battle, particularly since the Trump administration has no interest in creating more military bureaucracy, CNN reported.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) spending bill included a directive that would create the Space Corps as a new military branch under the Air Force.
Rep. Mike Rogers, the Strategic Forces Subcommittee chairman, spearheaded the idea of a Space Corps, claiming that the Air Force was prioritizing its fighter jets over space. A specific military branch committed to space operations, Rogers added, would be necessary to stay ahead of China and Russia in what many see as the next frontier of warfare.
"To pretend that our satellites are safe today would be foolish. An adversary attack in space could render us blind, deaf, and impotent before we knew what hit us. It would crush our economy and paralyze our military. World War III could be over before it started."
But, the Space Corps provision has yet to be included in the Senate's version of the NDAA--adding uncertainty to the endeavor's future.
The news of the bill's passing arrived the same week as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote a letter to support Ohio Republican Rep. Mike Turner's amendment to remove the provision.
"It's unusual for us to write on an issue like that," Mattis told reporters Friday. "I don't want to say anymore right now. I leave that to Congress -- I made known what I think and now we'll leave it to Congress and their legislative role."
Acting on President Trump's vow to foster the "greatest military build-up in history," the nearly $700 billion legislation represent the first efforts made by the Republican-majority Congress to echo those pledges--and even go beyond. The bill also includes $28 billion more in defense spending than the Trump administration had initially requested. The funding is expected to authorize an additional 17 F-35 fighters, eight F/A-18 Super Hornets and five more ships than originally sought.
The approved House bill also allocates funding for an additional 17,000 Army soldiers and a 2.4 percent pay raise for troops.