Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger today praised language in the bipartisan conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 that will create jobs and boost profits for American satellite companies while protecting national security. The legislation culminates more than five years of effort by Congressman Ruppersberger to achieve this goal on behalf of American manufacturers.
Under current law, satellites and their components are considered weapons for trade purposes. The new provision will restore the president's ability to move these products from the U.S. Munitions List to the Commerce Control List, which will provide greater flexibility to manufacturers who want to sell overseas.
"By treating satellites and even the nuts and bolts that hold them together as lethal weapons, we are turning our backs on American innovation," Congressman Ruppersberger said. "For too long, the makers of American satellites and their parts have gotten weaker as their foreign competitors get stronger. Today we say, "not anymore.'"
Before current export restrictions went into place in 1998, the U.S. held 73 percent of the world market for commercial satellites. Today, it's less than one third as foreign competitors exploit our inability to export simple, old and widely-available technology. This long-overdue change will give American satellite companies a fighting chance to recapture their market share.
Congressman Ruppersberger partnered with Congressmen Howard Berman and Adam Smith on multiple free-standing bills and amendments to achieve this goal over the last several years. Along with other key advocates, they introduced H.R. 3288, the "Safeguarding United States Satellite Leadership and Security Act" last November and it was included in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. Under the provision, the export of such items to China, North Korea and States Sponsors of Terrorism, including Syria and Iran, will continue to be prohibited.