Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will be introducing legislation in the Senate and House, respectively, that would repeal a provision of the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that effectively allows the unlimited purchase and use of Russian rocket engines manufactured by a Russian company with close ties to the regime of Vladimir Putin for U.S. national security space launches. The omnibus provision, which was airdropped into the bill by Senate appropriators in secret with no debate, undermines a measure in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (NDAA) that reasonably restricts the purchase of RD-180 rocket engines for military space launches by 2019, effectively rewarding Vladimir Putin and his cronies with a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars.
“It is morally outrageous and strategically foolish to ask American taxpayers to subsidize Russia’s military industrial base when Vladimir Putin occupies Crimea and destabilizes Ukraine, menaces our NATO allies in Europe, violates the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, sends weapons to Iran, and bombs U.S.-backed forces in Syria to prop-up the murderous regime of Bashar Assad,” said McCain. “This legislation is vital to ensuring the United States does not depend on Vladimir Putin’s regime for assured access to space.”
“Securing access to space is a national security priority and essential to leading in a 21st century economy,” said McCarthy. “The ever-expanding access to the final frontier is fueled by technology, research, and development. Our policies should facilitate a competitive environment that provides the incentive to scale each component required to access space. This was achieved in the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act that was signed into law. But in a last minute maneuver, a provision was tucked into an unrelated spending bill that provides an indefinite lifeline to Russian rocket engines to power American space launches. Placing such a critical aspect of our future in the hands of a country that names the United States as a threat is not only foolish, it undermines the ingenuity happening across the country.”
The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the use of Russian-made rocket engines for military space launches today.