President Joe Biden has decided to keep U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs, reversing a decision Donald Trump made just days before leaving the White House in 2021. Trump’s plan was to move the organization to Huntsville, Alabama, in what was widely seen as a thank you to the Alabama congressional delegation for supporting his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Now Republicans are furious that Biden would dare reverse such a sound, responsible decision.
House Armed Services Committee Chair Mike Rogers said the decision was due to “far-left politics” and that Biden had “intentionally misled” lawmakers. Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville said that the decision to keep Space Command where it already is in Colorado “looks like blatant patronage politics, and it sets a dangerous precedent that military bases are now to be used as rewards for political supporters rather than for our security.”
It’s always projection with Republicans, because that’s just what Trump’s decision looked like.
Unusually, the decision about a permanent home for Space Command involved a public, multicity competition. The decision to locate it in Huntsville came on Jan. 13, 2021, a week after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election and keep him in office—and after the majority of Alabama’s congressional delegation voted against certifying Biden’s victory. Trump subsequently claimed, “I single-handedly said, ‘let’s go to Alabama,’” and while that probably wasn’t true, it’s not clear how the decision was made. A Government Accountability Office report found “significant shortfalls in its transparency and credibility” that created the “appearance of bias” in the choice of Alabama.
Colorado lawmakers, including some Republicans, protested at the time, with Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn saying the decision was made for “political reasons” and calling on Biden to reverse it. After an extended process, that’s just what Biden has done.
A Pentagon spokesman said in a statement that Biden’s decision was made “following a deliberate evaluation” and with the support of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, and Army Gen. James H. Dickinson, who leads Space Command.
“Locating Headquarters U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs ultimately ensures peak readiness in the space domain for our nation during a critical period,” the spokesman said.
This is not going to convince Republicans in search of a Biden decision to yell about, and especially not Alabama Republicans whose state has just lost out on a major economic plum that would deliver around 1,400 jobs and $1 billion in estimated annual spending. The hilarious thing, though, is that Tuberville is already already using his big leverage over the military on an unrelated temper tantrum.
Tuberville has been blocking all military promotions since February because he’s angry about the Pentagon’s decision to reimburse service members and their families stationed in states with abortion bans so they can travel to other states to get abortion care.
That policy is important to military readiness, White House National Security Spokesperson John Kirby recently said, and part of a “foundational sacred obligation” of military leaders to ensure that service members and their families can “count on the kinds of health care and reproductive care specifically that they need to serve.”
“You go where you’re told, that’s the way orders work,” he said. “What happens if you get assigned to a state like Alabama, which has a pretty restrictive abortion law in place? And you’re concerned about your reproductive care? What do you do? Do you say no and you get out? Well, some people may decide to do that, and what does that mean? That means we lose talent, important talent.”
Tuberville’s hold on promotions has been drawing increasing criticism as it’s dragged on. “I have a huge problem with what Sen. Tuberville is doing,” retired Marine Corps Major General Arnold Punaro recently told Politico. “He’s a coward, in my book. He won’t even bring an amendment to the floor and get it voted on to change the policy.”
Retired Adm. James Stavridis told Hugh Hewitt Tuberville’s hold was “immensely distracting to national security.”
So now Tuberville is angry about something new, and what’s he going to do about it? If he does come up with some new way to jam up the military in the Senate, he’s doing so at a moment when his credibility is already eroded through his own actions.