It appears that congressional leaders and the White House have struck a bipartisan deal that would allow the Defense Department to establish a U.S. Space Force as a separate military branch.

According to a draft of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Agreement, also known as the 2020 U.S. defense budget, the Pentagon will redesignate the U.S. Air Force’s Space Command the U.S. Space Force, spinning it off from an arm of the Air Force into a separate service.

The service will be headed by a Chief of Space Operations, similar to how the U.S. Navy is headed by a Chief of Naval Operations and consist of “the space forces and such assets as may be organic therein.” That’s pretty ambiguous language but probably means most of the Air Force’s space assets, from satellite launching facilities like Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to spacecraft ground control bases like Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado.

It’ll also include america’s network of GPS satellites, the X-37B spaceplane, and other military space assets. The Space Force will also likely strip away a smaller number of assets and personnel from the U.S. Army and Navy.

The move is a rare compromise between the Republicans and Democrats, who obtained the votes to proceed with paid family leave for federal workers.

The agreement would give 2.1 million non-military federal workers 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a newborn or adopted child or to care for a family member, according to sources familiar with the details of the discussions. If passed, the bill would the become first time the federal government has guaranteed civilian employees access to paid parental leave.

…The measure was negotiated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, an annual bill that sets defense priorities. It was included in the version of the defense bill that passed the House, but its fate remained uncertain when negotiations with reluctant Republicans began in the Senate. After more than three months of negotiations, it was one of the last issues to be dealt with. The NDAA still must pass both houses of Congress before it reaches the president’s desk.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed in a 377-48 vote, a comfortable margin that perhaps signals the Democrats’ desire to distance themselves from Impeachment Theater.

The compromise bill picked up Republican support that was absent when the House passed its original version of the defense legislation in July, allowing the chamber to send the $738 billion bill to the Senate.

“This was not an easy process,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said ahead of the vote. “We have a divided government. We have a Republican president, a Republican Senate and Democratic House who do not agree on a lot of issues, and those are the issues that tend to get focused on. But what this conference report reflects for the most part is that we do agree on a lot.”

Rep. Mac Thornberry (Texas), the top Republican on the committee who voted against the House version in July, added that the final bill is “good for the troops, and it is good for national security, and when it comes to a defense authorization bill, that’s all that really matters.”

The measure is expected to pass the Senate easily, and President Donald Trump is eager to use his pen:

For those interested, here is an excellent lecture on the need for Space Force by Steven L. Kwast, a retired Air Force general and former commander of the Air Education and Training Command at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.

I sense that this is the first of many compromises to come, as Democrats look for a way to make their presence relevant to constituents who are not suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome.


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