The House of Representatives is expected to take up, and likely pass, legislation that would extend the current third-party commercial launch indemnification regime by one year. HR 3547, introduced November 20 by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and a bipartisan group of cosponsors, is one of three bills scheduled to be considered by the House under suspension of the rules on Monday, according to the schedule from the House Majority Leader’s office. Suspension of the rules allows for expedited passage of non-controversial bills, and there’s no evidence of strong opposition to this bill.
As reported when the bill was introduced, it appeared that Republicans sought a longer extension of the regime, which indemnifies commercial launch providers from third-party damages that exceed levels that the companies must insure against. The regime expires at the end of this year, after Congress passed a last-minute one-year extension at the end of the previous Congress. Democrats indicated they wanted time to study the indemnification system to see if it should be changed or continued at all as part of a broader review of commercial space issues.
At the same time House members introduced their one-year extension, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced S.1753, which would provide a three-year extension. At the time of the introduction, Nelson hoped to get the bill passed quickly via the Senate’s unanimous consent system for noncontroversial bills, but the Senate did not take action before adjourning November 21 for the Thanksgiving holiday.