McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that Sens. Richard Shelby and Dick Durbin gutted “to their everlasting shame in the dark of night” a provision to limit the use of Russian rocket engines for national security launches. In a blistering 26-minute speech on the floor of the Senate floor Wednesday, McCain (Arizona) said that the lawmakers lifted the restrictions in the appropriations process instead of offering amendments to the bill that would have been publicly debated.
For months, McCain has been pushing to restrict the use of the engines, which he said directly benefits the Russian government at a time when the U.S. has imposed sanctions over tensions in the Ukraine.
The restrictions were put in place, he said Wednesday, “not only because our nation should not rely on Russia to access space, but because it is simply immoral to help subsidize Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and line the pockets of Putin’s gang of thugs who profit from the sale of Russian rocket engines.”
The engines are used by the Lockheed Martin-Boeing joint venture known as the United Launch Alliance, which for years had a monopoly on launching Pentagon and intelligence satellites into space. The company has said that the limit on the…