June 15, 2016
SPACE RACE: Real talk on one of the biggest lobbying showdowns: SpaceX‘s big guns and loaded rhetoric about boosting Putin cronies weren’t enough to overcome Boeing and Lockheed-Martin‘s muscle, in a remarkable turnaround from last year’s NDAA and a stunning defeat for Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain. The amendment yesterday from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) lets the companies’ joint United Launch Alliance buy up to 18 Russian-made rockets, which is what they and the Pentagon wanted. McCain spun the amendment as a “compromise” since it imposed a cut-off in 2022, but the ULA never objected to that because they expect a made-in-America alternative by then. The fact is, the amendment passed by voice vote because SpaceX’s side knew it didn’t have the votes, sources familiar with the proceedings tell PI. (Last year’s NDAA blocked the Russian rockets, but a sneaky rider in the omnibus put them back in play.)
“This compromise reflects the concern shared by authorizers and appropriators alike that year-to-year litigation of this issue did not serve the Congress, U.S. space policy, or our national security well,” McCain said in a statement. “In order to prevent future fights on this issue, I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that this compromise is reflected in the defense appropriations bill.”
John Scofield of S-3 Group, Kevin Kelly of Van Scoyoc Associates, and former Rep. Bud Cramer of FTI Consulting helped carry ULA to victory. The Madison Group, Capitol Decisions, and Theodore Kronmiller were on the case too, and Rokk Solutions helped with strategic communications. The joint venture spent $470,000 on lobbying last quarter.
SpaceX wasn’t wanting for top consultants, including former Sens. Trent Lott and John Breaux at Squire Patton Boggs, and Heather Podesta and her team at Heather Podesta + Partners. The Elon Musk-founded company also has S.O. Witt and Associates, Skipper Group, J.A. Green and Company, Harbinger Strategies, and American Defense International on the roster and spent $471,000 on lobbying last quarter.Read the full Influence