WASHINGTON — The House Appropriations Committee on June 13 advanced an $833 billion defense spending bill for fiscal year 2025 that’s $16.5 billion below what President Biden asked for. The measure cleared the panel on a 34-25 vote.

The bill greenlights $28.7 billion for the Space Force, or about $900 million less than the White House requested. According to estimates by the consulting firm Velos, cuts were spread across several Space Force research, development and procurement programs, hitting both unclassified and classified projects.

Of note, appropriators pared back funds for the Global Positioning System satellite program. The committee cut $185.9 million from the procurement account for GPS IIIF satellites.

The HAC also challenged a new Department of the Air Force initiative to expedite the development of “Resilient GPS,” an effort to use commercial technologies to build smaller and less expensive GPS satellites to augment the existing constellation. Under so-called “quick-start authorities,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall sought to reallocate $117 million for the Resilient GPS project, which is estimated to cost $1 billion over five years.

The committee said it’s not convinced that these smaller satellites increase resilience against jamming threats compared to other alternative positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) concepts. 

In a report, appropriators noted that this new program focuses on the space segment and does not address longstanding shortages of GPS user equipment that is compatible with the newer anti-jamming signals.

The HAC rejected Kendall’s requested realignment of funds and directed the Pentagon’s cost accounting office to look into the Resilient GPS program and assess whether it’s the best option to boost the resilience of the military’s PNT systems. 

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...