An amendment co-sponsored by Rep. Howard Berman restoring America's global competiveness in high-tech satellite technology was successfully attached to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2013.
After nearly a decade of efforts to fix this problem, Rep. Berman, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, together with a bipartisan group of Members including Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon and Ranking Member Adam Smith, succeeded in incorporating an amendment into the NDAA.
"Treating commercial satellites and components as if they were lethal weapons, regardless of whether they're going to friend or foe, has gravely harmed American space manufacturers -- a view borne out by numerous studies, industry assessments, and the Administration's own recent "1248" report to Congress," said Rep. Berman (D-Valley Village).
"We depend on these manufacturers for our own critical defense needs; if onerous restrictions prevent them from competing in the international marketplace, then they can't innovate and ultimately cannot survive," he added.
The amendment is similar to H.R. 3288, legislation offered by Mr. Berman allowing the President to transfer commercial satellites and related component from the U.S. Munitions List back to the dual-use Commerce Control List, making their export to friends and allies easier. It would also prohibit outright any such exports to China, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Sudan, or Cuba, the countries that pose the biggest risks to our national security. This latter provision is actually tougher than current law, which allows such exports.