Return to FY22 Funding Would Be ‘Catastrophic’: Top Space Force Official

Chief of Space Operations Gen. B. Chance Saltzman
Image: U.S. Air Force photo by Andy Morataya.

It would be “catastrophic” if the Space Force had to operate under fiscal 2022 funding levels, the military’s top space official told lawmakers on Tuesday. 

Under a spending plan backed by a wing of the Republican party, dollars for research and development, launch, modernization, recruitment, missile defense, and domain awareness could all be at risk said Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), the ranking member of the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees defense spending. She asked military leaders specifically how each branch could be affected.

“The Space Force of FY22 doesn’t look anything like the Space Force of FY24,” Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, the chief of space operations, told the subcommittee. “Probably the most important concern I would have is the loss of time…when we are moving as fast as possible to address the threat.

Some context

When Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was trying to secure support in his bid to become House speaker, he made a deal with some members of the Republican caucus to cut annual spending in fiscal 2024 back to fiscal 2022 levels. While some GOP members said the plan represents an “aspirational goal” rather than a hard cap on spending, other lawmakers have emphasized that everything–even defense–is on the chopping block in their quest to balance the budget.

By the numbers

The Space Force asked for $30B in fiscal 2024. That’s almost double the $18B the service received in fiscal 2022, when it was a little over one year old. The service also looks quite different than it did in March 2022, when Congress passed that year’s appropriations bill. For example, the Space Development Agency–and its multi-billion budget–has transferred into the service since then.

Not all Republicans

It’s important to note that this plan is not backed by all Republicans, and is strongly opposed by defense hawks within the party. At the hearing, subcommittee chair Rep.  Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) said, “I just want to be on the record that I’m not a big fan of sequestration either, so I hope we can get this appropriation bill completed.”