Lawmakers stress need to fund intelligence

House members also hope to help commercial suppliers compete with overseas companies

Two senior House members said Oct. 19 at the GEOINT 2011 Symposium said they’re trying to ensure that budget cuts don’t hurt the mission of protecting U.S. interests and technology is a key component of efforts to keep the nation safe.

“We shouldn’t take one step back in our push to advance our technology,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R- Mich.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the ranking member of that panel, said he and Rogers “have a commitment that bipartisanship has no place on this committee, the stakes are too high.”

Both stressed that it’s difficult to maintain funding for technology given the financial problems facing the country.

“I’m from Michigan, which has 14 percent unemployment. People tend to focus on the economy, and this gets lost in the translation. That’s a difficult conversation to have, and that’s what worries me most as we look for savings,” Rogers said.

In related area, Rogers said Iran is a sponsor of terrorism and noted that China has been involved in industrial espionage that has cost American businesses billions from stolen intellectual property.

Meanwhile, commercial suppliers in the United States are hamstrung in their ability to compete with foreign companies; Rogers said outdated International Traffic in Arms Regulations have hurt the ability of the U.S. to match costs and technical capabilities with international competitors.

“Resolution restrictions prevent U.S. companies from selling the technology they have,” Rogers said. “French companies can sell imagery that has higher resolution at cheaper prices, leaving U.S. companies selling their services only to U.S. customers at higher prices.”

Ruppersberger said the U.S. must change its satellite launching techniques so they’re less costly. “It’s inexcusable that American satellite companies have to go overseas to launch satellites because domestic costs are too high,” Ruppersberger said. He said Russia recently increased the cost of launches to take personnel to the space station because the United States has no alternative.

About the Author

Terry Costlow is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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