The House isn't done pressing the Defense Department to develop a plan for operating in space, after ignoring objections from the Pentagon and the White House this week and passing a plan to create a new Space Corps military service.
The chamber's Armed Services Committee is planning more discussions this month aimed at shoring up what members believe are deep structural and management problems in the military's space operations, said Rep. Mac Thornberry, the committee's chairman.
"I'm going to have a number of committee events in the coming weeks while we are waiting to go to conference with the Senate to look at space issues and different proposals," Thornberry said on Friday following the House passage of National Defense Authorization Act.
Thornberry did not provide details of what his Armed Services Committee might be considering. The topics were still being considered and the events might not be public hearings, a committee aide said.
The annual policy bill requires the Defense Department to create the Space Corps under the Air Force, which currently handles most space operations.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis asked the House to abandon the proposal before the NDAA vote and the Air Force secretary and chief of staff said it would create unneeded bureaucracy. The White House's Office of Management and Budget also called the Space Corps proposal "premature" in its assessment of the bill, but Thornberry said it's the role of Congress to push the Defense Department in this direction.
"I know there are those in the Department of Defense who may not think it is the best idea in the world… but if you look back on history, it is incumbent on Congress to make changes on the Pentagon that they cannot make for themselves," Thornberry said.
The department originally resisted the creation of the Air Force and the Goldwater-Nichols Act, a landmark law that reorganized the DOD in the 1980's.
Despite the controversy, the House declined to allow a floor vote on an amendment by Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, an Armed Services subcommittee chairman, which would have stripped the Space Corps requirement from the NDAA.
The future of the new service is still far from assured. The House NDAA must be reconciled with the Senate's version of the bill, which has yet to get a floor vote, and negotiations could lead to changes in the space plans.