White House to press forward with Trump’s Space Command

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House advisers on Tuesday are set to recommend that U.S. President Donald Trump’s planned U.S. Space Command develop ways for the military to operate in outer space, according to two administration officials briefed on the plans.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump waves to the news media before boarding Air Force One to depart for travel to Houston, TX, from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., October 22, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

The National Space Council, a White House advisory panel, will also recommend a review of existing treaty issues, and will unveil proposed legislation for Congress to create and fund a separate space agency to oversee commercial activities, the officials said.

The council’s recommendations are set to be made at a meeting later on Tuesday at the National Defense University in Washington, where Vice President Mike Pence is also scheduled to speak.

The Trump administration in August announced an ambitious plan to usher in a new “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the military by 2020. Such a change, which the Defense Department has estimated would cost $13 billon in the first five years, must first be approved by Congress.

Critics, including some Democratic lawmakers, have said its creation is an unnecessary and expensive bureaucratic endeavor that would simply shift work already being done well by other services like the Air Force.

The proposed bill would create the Bureau of Space Commerce under the U.S. Department of Commerce to liaise with industry representatives and organizations, according to a copy provided to Reuters. It also calls for $10 million a year for five years starting in 2020 to fund the commerce arm.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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