US House of Representatives passes Space Force bill


Washington, Dec 12 (IANS): The US House of Representatives has passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2020, allocating $738 billion for a new space force.

The project, passed on Wednesday with 377 votes in favour and 48 against, also contemplates a series of other measures, such as 12 weeks of parental leave for federal workers and a pay rise for military personnel, reports Efe news.

The law envisages implementing a defence strategy to confront Russia, China and other "threats", according to the document agreed by the House and the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The initiative considers the space as a war domain and provides for the establishment of a US space command, under the Air Force.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith of the Democratic Party admitted before the voting that the process had not been easy, especially reaching a compromise in a divided government.

"We have accomplished more with this bill than anyone ever thought possible given the realities of a Trump White House and a Republican-controlled Senate, and we should be proud of that," said Smith in a press release.

Republican Congressman Mac Thornberry, on his part, said this bill was good for soldiers and good for national security.

President Donald Trump tweeted stressing that all their priorities had been included in the NDAA, which included "Pay Raise for our Troops, Rebuilding our Military, Paid Parental Leave, Border Security, and Space Force".

"Congress - don't delay this anymore! I will sign this historic defense legislation immediately!" Trump said.

In August, Trump announced the launch of a new Space Command with the aim of protecting the country's interests in space, a domain considered increasingly in contention following a progressively increasing interest of its two major adversaries, China and Russia.

The Space Command will have five operation centres, a staff of 287 members from the Department of Defence and a budget of $83.8 million, and will be responsible for coordinating the five different branches of the Armed Forces; six in case the Space Force project goes ahead.

Air Force General John Raymond, who will be in charge of this new command, underlined the growing threat posed by China and Russia that led to the creation of this new Space Command.

  

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