Alabama Senators Supported Alabama-Based Rocket Launch Vehicles


U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions voted for Senate passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017 that contains a provision for Alabama-based launch rockets that are developed by a Lockheed Martin-Boeing joint venture in Decatur.

The Senate voted 85-13 to pass the bill, which will go to a conference committee with the U.S. House in order to work out differences in the legislation.

Sen. Sessions is a senior member of the Armed Services Committee and Chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee.

“While this bill is not perfect, I supported it because it provides needed resources for our national defense, for our service men and women fighting overseas, and for Alabama’s military assets that are so crucial to our national defense,” Sen. Sessions said. “I also worked to include language in the bill that ensures there will not be a capability gap in launching our national security payloads. We must have a sufficient number of existing RD-180 engines until we can develop a domestic alternative to them.”

Sen. Shelby won inclusion of an amendment regarding the use of launch engines known as RD-180s that are used to send U.S. payloads into orbit. The RD-180 is a Russian-made engine but Congress last year banned their use while calling on development of the next generation of American rocket engines by 2019.

“We got what we wanted,” Sen. Shelby said. “Our real goal is to build the American engine. We’re going to do it. But right now the Russian engine has a purpose.”
Sen. Shelby’s amendment allows the purchase up to 18 Russian-made engines over the next six years until the United Launch Alliance joint venture in Decatur, which employs about 800 people and which handles all military launches, can develop a U.S.-made replacement.

“While we can all agree that the U.S. should not be dependent upon any foreign power – especially in the national security arena – it would have been far too dangerous to hastily restrict the use of the RD-180 before an American-made rocket engine is developed,” Sen. Shelby said.

The House voted 282-138 on Thursday to pass its $576 billion version of the defense bill.

“This bill ensures that our military receives the 2.1 percent pay raise they deserve instead of the 1.6 percent pay raise requested by President Obama,” U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, said. “This bill makes important investments in military readiness, providing for equipment procurement for each of the service branches.”

(ULA Photo – Used By Permission)


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a Monday letter urged the Senate to quickly join a House energy bill conference committee amid concerns that progress on the bill is stalling. The Senate has not appointed members to the compromise committee.

The U.S. Chamber said it would score members’ votes on a motion to join the committee. “The consensus approach in the Senate has worked so well so far, and we’d like to see them press ahead with that,” said Ron Eidshaug, the Chamber’s vice president for congressional and public affairs.

The Senate approved its energy bill in April. It’s designed to streamline federal policy for the first time in a decade. Energy and business groups are pushing members to go to a conference committee but Congress takes a break next month and after that will be in session only for a few weeks before November elections and the lame-duck session.


The National Association of Manufacturers is reacting to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that ruled against manufacturers in an Internet infrastructure case.

NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly issued the following statement after the appellate court’s decision in the case U.S. Telecom Association et al. v. FCC: “As modern manufacturing evolves and becomes more connected to the internet, our future growth and success are dependent on technology infrastructure. Today’s decision from the D.C. Circuit creates uncertainty for manufacturers and is a major disincentive to investment in this essential infrastructure.

“The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MCLA) and the NAM will continue to fight the FCC’s misguided policy-in the courts and in Congress-to ensure manufacturers’ growing technology infrastructure needs can be met.”
In August, the NAM and several business associations filed an amicus brief in support of the pending lawsuit on the legality of the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to regulate the open Internet. A study estimates that capital investment by certain broadband providers could be between $28.1 billion and $45.4 billion lower than expected over the next five years if wireless broadband is reclassified as the FCC seeks.

“The NAM and our members are greatly concerned with the impact the FCC’s new Open Internet rules will have on all manufacturers in the U.S,” the letter states. “The FCC’s decision to subject the 21st Century Internet to 20th Century-era laws will lead to a slowdown in innovation, chill investment in future technologies and stall much needed economic growth.”

Click here and here to learn more about the NAM’s efforts to protect the open Internet against nationalization by three unknown FCC bureaucrats.


House Speaker to Call for New Government Spending Limits
The Hill (Devaney 6/16) “House Speaker Paul Ryan will call for the federal government to rein in spending Thursday. As the national debt surges past $19 trillion, Republicans are searching for ways to limit Washington’s footprint. Congress should have the final say over ‘who is spending their money, what it’s being spent on, where it’s being spent, when it’s being spent, and why it’s being spent’. But ‘over time, congressional control over federal spending has eroded’, Republicans charge.

“Ryan will make the case for Congress to assert more control over the spending and other aspects of the executive branch during the latest step in the GOP’s policy rollout. Republicans will call for a ‘concentration of power’ that gives them more authority over the White House. This will include more control over government spending and limits to regulations.

“The GOP plan will include a renewed effort to release timely appropriations bills that provide the federal government with clear spending limits. Republicans may also conduct an inventory of non-appropriated government spending and seek to punish bureaucrats that spend beyond their means.”