The defense authorization bill contains language designed to
constrain the administration’s ability to negotiate an outer
space code of conduct without consulting Congress.
(credit: J. Foust)

Separation of powers battle continues over the Code of Conduct

by Michael Listner
Monday, January 7, 2013

On January 3, the President signed into law H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. H.R. 4310 authorizes support for service members and their families, and renews certain national security programs. The signed bill was followed by a signing statement, which further elaborated the President’s position on certain controversial provisions within the measure.1 The signing statement in this case mentioned several provisions within H.R. 4310 where the President disagreed with Congress, including Section 913, which deals with the potential future implementation of the International Code of Conduct.

This isn’t the first time that the Code of Conduct has been an issue between the Executive Branch and Congress. Beginning as early as 2010, when the United States was discussing the now-defunct European Code of Conduct, Congress noted its concern that the Administration was not including Congress in the negotiations or otherwise keeping it in the loop. The administration, for its part, asserted that the European Code of Conduct was not intended to be a legally binding treaty, that it was not required to seek the advice or consent of Congress, and it did not require Congressional intervention while negotiating it. The administration continued to hold this stance even after the failure of the EU Code.

Read more: The Space Review: Separation of powers battle continues over the Code of Conduct.

Home           Top of page