Carbajal, Dunn, Rubio, Luján Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Keep U.S. Competitive & Secure Leadership in Space

Legislation updates tax code to treat spaceports like airports and seaports, allowing them to receive tax-free bonds.

Last week, Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) and Congressman Neal Dunn, M.D. (FL-02) joined Senator Marco Rubio (FL) and Senator Ben Ray Luján (NM) to introduce bicameral and bipartisan legislation to designate spaceports like Vandenberg Space Force Base eligible for tax-exempt municipal revenue bonds to incentivize investment in spaceport infrastructure.

Projects such as airports and docks currently qualify for tax-exempt municipal revenue bonds, which attract private investment for critical infrastructure projects. The Secure U.S. Leadership in Space Act allows spaceports the same options to garner needed investment for a rapidly evolving industry.

"As the Representative for Vandenberg Space Force Base, our nation’s West Coast range, my communities and I are seeing the firsthand reality of the exponential increase in commercial space launches year after year,” said Congressman Carbajal, senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. “Opening public-private revenue sources like municipal bonds, which were a foundational tool to meeting our nations’ needs when our new frontiers were the ocean or the air, will help us meet this important moment in the development of our space economy."

The lawmakers cite U.S. adversaries’ heavy investment in space infrastructure, notably China, and the projected exponential growth of U.S. launches as critical reasons for their new bipartisan legislation. The number of space launches from the U.S. doubled in just the last seven years.

“Given the global instability, the U.S. must make the development of our space infrastructure a priority to remain competitive with our adversaries,” said Congressman Dunn. “Our airports and seaports receive tax-exempt bonds, and our spaceports should receive the same. This would incentivize private-public partnerships that bolster innovation and spur economic growth.”

“In the race for space dominance, we cannot afford to fall behind. As adversaries like China continue to expand their presence in space, it’s imperative the United States takes decisive action to bolster our own capabilities. The Secure U.S. Leadership in Space Act of 2024 is a critical step towards ensuring our nation maintains its competitive edge,” said Senator Rubio.

“As our adversaries are quickly investing in space infrastructure, our country cannot fall behind. With spaceports in New Mexico and across the country, I’m proud to introduce this bill that creates pathways for public and private partnerships to ensure our country remains on the forefront of space innovation,” said Senator Luján.

The full text of the Secure U.S. Leadership in Space Act can be found here.

The legislation also has the support of Congressman Mike Gallager (WI-08), the Chairman of the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party.

"We know that the Chinese Communist Party does not play by the rules when it comes to space. The Secure U.S. Leadership in Space Act of 2024, which acts on one of the recommendations outlined in the Select Committee's bipartisan policy report, will ensure the United States can win in space." said Chairman Gallagher.  "This act allows American businesses to use municipal bonds to expand American space launch capacity at spaceports. We want American innovation leading the charge in space, not the Chinese Communist Party.”

“Thank you to Sens. Rubio and Luján, and Reps. Dunn and Carbajal for propelling this important financial and national security policy forward,” said Rob Long, president and CEO, Space Florida. “This strategic policy change empowers our state and national leaders to leverage the power of financial markets to accelerate space infrastructure development and bolster the economy. Florida leads the nation in prioritizing space transportation development through our designation of space as a mode of transportation. This policy change will help bring that same level of investment to states across the nation, signaling to investors that space infrastructure is a viable investment that helps revolutionize the way we approach the space economy, all while reducing the burden on taxpayer dollars.”

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