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Dianne Feinstein’s Space Hypocrisy Is Out of this World

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is currently busy opposing commonsense amendments to the NASA Authorization Act to make NASA and the Government Accountability Office vet contractors for dangerous ties to China.  

This move by California’s senior senator is incredibly dangerous and downright hypocritical.

In the past, Feinstein actively supported efforts by Congress to phase out other dangerous foreign ties in the space industry — the country’s reliance on Russian rocket engines being the most recent. That was the right thing to do for our national security.

In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimea. It then became clear that our reliance on them for critical space rockets was risky. Our relationship with the country was clearly deteriorating and we needed to ensure reliable access to rockets to launch military satellites and protect other national security concerns of importance. Russia is an adversary in space, actively developing weapons to challenge American military might, and is still engaged in a long road of espionage against the U.S. With those threats in mind, the push to develop domestic space vendors intensified. 

Now, China is emerging as an active threat to our space security. The country is even more involved in military space investment than Russia as they don’t have the same development restrictions that the U.S. and Russia have placed each other under. It sees space as a way to further its ambition to overtake America as the global economic power. It is actively stealing American technology in several ways to catch up and surpass us. 

China has had 20 years to embed itself in the U.S. without receiving much American much resistance. But despite supporting the Russia devastation efforts, Feinstein now opposes this latest congressional effort to protect America’s defense in space when it comes to China. Why is that?

Could it be that she doesn’t care about policy as much as she does about politics?

The Russian rocket ban didn’t pose any financial pain to SpaceX, which is located within her state. The government's new China vetting, on the contrary, could force the company to make some operational changes.

SpaceX is intertwined with the car company Tesla, which has deep ties to China. Its CEO has directly stated that he loves China and its communist leaders. He has a longstanding relationship with Chinese leadership, extending all the way up to the vice-chairman. Tesla has even received state funding from the regime, including a $1.6 billion loan from a combination of public Chinese banks. 

So, it’s not surprising to see reports showing SpaceX lobbying against the Gardner amendments — just as it’s not shocking to see Feinstein seemingly caring more about dollars and politics than national security.  After all, the company and its CEO have contributed lavishly to her re-election efforts. 

It appears that Feinstein was on the right-side last time during the Russia battle — but only because the political winds blew in favor of her benefactors. 

If the California senator cares about our security, she would put America first and help pass the Gardner Amendments to the NASA Authorization Act. It’s not too late for her to reverse course. The time to pivot is now.

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