The Biden administration will keep U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs, reversing a Trump-era decision to move the headquarters to Alabama that has embroiled lawmakers and the White House in a yearslong debate over the command’s future.
President Joe Biden decided that moving the headquarters to Alabama would have impacted Space Command’s “operational readiness,” according to a senior administration official.
The headquarters in Colorado is slated to achieve full operational capability later this month. A move to Alabama would have forced the command to undergo a transition process that would not have been completed until the mid-2030s, which Biden found unacceptable, the official said.
The decision brings to a close a two-and-a-half-year process that began January 2021 when then-President Donald Trump, in the final days of his administration, decided to relocate the headquarters to Alabama. At the time, Trump said he alone made the decision to do so.
A subsequent report from the Government Accountability Office found no fault with the decision. But the Biden administration put the move on hold until now, which gave lawmakers from both states — and Ohio — the chance to advocate for housing Space Command.
Colorado lawmakers argued moving the headquarters would disrupt its operations and threaten national security — the same rationale that Biden has reportedly embraced.
“Over the past two and half years, we have repeatedly made the case that the Trump Administration’s decision to relocate U.S. Space Command was misguided. Today’s decision restores integrity to the Pentagon’s basing process and sends a strong message that national security and the readiness of our Armed Forces drive our military decisions. Colorado is the rightful home for U.S. Space Command, and our state will continue to lead America in space for years to come,” Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said in a press release.
But members of the Alabama delegation argued that Huntsville was better suited to house Space Command, having scored higher than Colorado according to the Government Accountability Office’s criteria. They accused the Biden administration of playing politics with the decision over Alabama’s strict abortion laws.
The issue of abortion and the military has taken center stage in Congress in recent months, as Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville continues to hold up the promotions of hundreds of high-ranking military officers, including Biden’s pick for commandant of the Marine Corps, over the Pentagon’s abortion policies.
Tuberville’s blanket blockade of any Senate activity involving generals or admirals has already ensnared more than 270 promotions, Armed Services Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., said last week. By the end of the year, that number could exceed 650, according to the Pentagon.
Though not directly related, Alabama Republicans on Monday appeared to suggest the Space Command basing decision was, at least in part, retaliatory.
“The Biden Administration has been talking a lot about readiness over the past few months, but no Administration has done more to damage our military readiness in my lifetime,” Tuberville said Monday in a press release. “They’ve politicized our military, destroyed our recruiting, misused our tax dollars for their extremist social agenda, and now they are putting Space Command headquarters in a location that didn’t even make the top three. They are doing this at a time when space is only becoming more important for national security.”
“The President’s blatant prioritization of partisan political considerations at the expense of our national security, military modernization, and force readiness is a disservice and a dishonor to his oath of office as our nation’s Commander-in-Chief. Locating the permanent Space Command Headquarters on Redstone Arsenal undoubtedly remains in the best national security interest of the United States” said Sen. Katie Britt, R-Ala., in a press release.
House Armed Services Chairman Mike D. Rogers, R-Ala., said in a press release Monday that it was “clear that far-left politics, not national security, was the driving force behind this decision.” Rogers, who has held up some of the Pentagon’s requests to reprogram money over the Space Command headquarters decision, pledged to continue to investigate the issue.
“The fight is far from over,” he said, a sentiment echoed by Tuberville.
Briana Reilly and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.