Light-speed legislation

A lot has been said of late of the very slow pace of activity in Congress, particularly in the Senate, where very little legislation, from space issues to budgets to judicial nominations, have been getting through. There are, though, exceptions to the rule, one of which is tangentially space-related. S.2315, with the descriptive title of “A bill to amend the Communications Satellite Act of 1962 to extend the deadline for the INTELSAT initial public offering”, was introduced by Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana on April 8. On April 27th the Senate approved the bill by unanimous consent, and referred to the House, which also passed the bill by unanimous consent on May 5. President Bush signed the bill into law on May 18, only 40 days after its introduction.

The bill amends an earlier law, the ORBIT Act, that set a deadline for satellite operator Intelsat, which was privatized several years ago, to conduct an initial public offering (IPO) of stock. The deadlines in the original act had been extended several times, and prior to the passage of S.2315 stood at June 30, 2004. The bill extends the deadline one year, with the option of another six-month extension to the end of 2005. Intelsat wasted little time taking advantage of the measure: three days after it was signed into law the company announced it was withdrawing a planned IPO it announced earlier in the year. That’s good news to Lockheed Martin, Intelsat’s largest shareholder, which backed the legislation, hoping that an extension would allow Intelsat to wait until the IPO markets were better, or could find a buyout offer that was a better deal.

1 comment to Light-speed legislation

  • Anonymous

    Apparently legislation can move very fast, with appropriate amounts of grease applied…