WASHINGTON -- Congressional Democrats propose lifting export controls classifying satellite technology as weaponry, a move observers say could revitalize the U.S. industry.
House hearings on the controls open Thursday, and proponents of the change say they have the support of President Barack Obama and Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, The New York Times reported.
The export revision is not a sure thing, conservatives said, citing national security arguments they said they believe are needed to prevent secret technology from being stolen.
The House Foreign Affairs trade subcommittee hearing will include supporters and critics of the proposed changes. Subcommittee Chairman Brad Sherman of California recently said the possibility of new jobs could favor the regulatory change.
The rules have been in effect since 1999, and the resulting legal labyrinth in selling commercial communications satellites and components abroad have contributed to a drop in U.S. companies' share of the market from nearly 90 percent to about 50 percent, the Times said.
"The United States invented this industry," said Peggy Slye, director for space and telecommunications at Futron, an aerospace consulting firm. "To see that lead eroded because of regulatory policy is very regrettable."
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