WASHINGTON — As expected, U.S President Barack Obama vetoed on Oct. 22 the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, a move that puts several national security space-related measures in limbo.
The White House objected to the bill primarily because Congress is using the Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO, accounts to skirt spending caps imposed by the 2010 Budget Control Act for the Defense Department while keeping them in place for domestic programs. OCO dollars are traditionally used to support ongoing war-on-terrorism activities, primarily in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and fall outside the normal budgeting process.
Leaders in the House of Representatives scheduled to vote to override the veto on Nov. 5. The NDAA originally passed the House by a vote of 270-156, about 20 votes short of the total needed to override the veto.
House and Senate negotiators completed work Sept. 29 on the bill that gives government launch services provider United Launch Alliance access to far fewer Russian-made engines than the company says it needs to stay viable in its core national security market as it develops a new rocket featuring a domestic propulsion system.
The bill also authorizes $40 million next year for a legacy U.S. Air Force weather satellite program but restricted access to the funding until senior Defense Department officials can demonstrate that launching the final satellite in the series, which was built in the 1990s, is the best and most affordable option.