As the full House gears up to consider its fiscal year 2018 defense appropriations bill this week, lawmakers have submitted more than 140 amendments for potential consideration, including proposals to block funding for creating a space corps and developing space-based missile defenses.

An amendment by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) would deny money needed to implement a provision in the House-passed FY 2018 defense authorization bill that would set up a space corps in the Air Force Department. While space corps proponents argue that the new organization is needed to improve Air Force management of space activities, opponents counter that forming a new bureaucracy would be disruptive or needs more study. Capitol under clouds

It’s “not that I’m necessarily opposed” to a space corps, “but it’s just simply a circumstance where I feel like members, including myself, aren’t completely informed” on the topic, Perry testified before the House Rules Committee late July 24. “My concern is that we haven’t explored all the options.”

Whether Perry will be allowed to offer his amendment is unclear. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), a member of the Rules Committee as well as the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), defended the space corps idea, saying it has already been studied thoroughly by the HASC, the Government Accountability Office and others.

“We’re past time needing to do this,” Byrne told Perry. “Quite frankly, this may be one of those times that we need to make the Air Force do what it should have done long ago.”

Perry, an assistant adjutant general in the Pennsylvania National Guard, said he plans to meet July 26 with Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), a leading advocate of a space corps, to discuss the matter.

Rogers and Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the HASC’s strategic forces subcommittee, reiterated their support for a space corps after hosting a closed-door briefing for HASC members July 19 on leadership and acquisition challenges in national security space. Perry is not a HASC member.

Pentagon leaders, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, have urged Congress to nix the space corps proposal (Defense Daily, July 12).

Meanwhile, an amendment submitted by Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) would deny funding needed to carry out a provision in the authorization bill that would direct the Missile Defense Agency to begin developing a space-based system for intercepting ballistic missiles.

While backers of space-based missile defense call space the ultimate high ground, opponents say such a system is not affordable or technologically feasible. Foster, a physicist, said that a space-based system could cost hundreds of billions of dollars and still might not work.

“Such a system would require hundreds to thousands of orbiting interceptors and could be easily overwhelmed by a much smaller number of enemy missiles,” Foster said in a statement.

The House Rules Committee was scheduled to meet late July 25 to decide parameters for debating the $658.1-billion appropriations bill, including which amendments will be approved for floor consideration.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, returned to work July 25 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. But it remained unclear when the full Senate would take up his panel’s FY 2018 defense authorization bill.

The Senate will be addressing health care legislation “until further notice,” said David Popp, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

McCain’s committee approved the authorization bill in late June. The full House passed its version in mid-July (Defense Daily, July 14).