WASHINGTON — The Senate Armed Services Committee on June 16 voted 23-3 to advance its version of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. 

According to a summary released by the committee, the bill authorizes $817.3 billion for the Department of Defense, a nearly $45 billion increase above the Biden administration’s request of $773 billion. The SASC proposal now heads to the Senate floor for consideration. 

Unlike an appropriations bill, the NDAA does not provide budget authority but establishes policy and provides guidance on how appropriated funds should be spent on authorized activities.

The SASC said the increase is needed to “address the effects of inflation and accelerate implementation of the national defense strategy.”

The committee’s markup includes language in support of the U.S. Space Force. 

“As space becomes a contested domain among near-peer rivals, the Strategic Forces subcommittee mark continues its oversight of the Space Force consistent with the intent of the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act by consolidating DoD space programs under it,” said the summary.

The bill includes several provisions on the Space Force and space programs:

  • Designates the Chief of Space Operations as the force design architect for space systems of the U.S. armed forces.
  • Requires a DoD study on whether the Space Development Agency procurements would be exempt from the traditional Pentagon requirements review.
  • Directs a report detailing the cost of transferring the fleet of narrowband communications satellites from the Navy to the Space Force, as well as the five-year costs of operating those satellites. 
  • Authorizes the Secretary of the Air Force to adjust the number of personnel in the Space Force “by a greater degree than is otherwise permitted for the armed services in order to give the Secretary additional discretion to build and establish the U.S. Space Force.”
  • Requires a contract with one or more federally funded research and development centers to conduct a study on the proposed reorganization of the Space Force and the establishment of a space reserve component.

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...