President Joe Biden has decided to keep U.S. Space Command headquarters in Colorado, reversing plans by the Trump administration to move the headquarters to Alabama.
The location of Space Command’s permanent headquarters has triggered a political feud in Washington, pitting Alabama lawmakers against their Colorado counterparts and threatening to draw the Pentagon into abortion politics once again.
“Today, following a thorough and deliberate evaluation process, and after consultation with (Defense) Secretary (Lloyd) Austin and weighing the input of senior military leaders, President Biden notified the Department of Defense that he has selected Colorado Springs as the permanent location of the U.S. Space Command Headquarters,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement.
Austin, the secretary of the Air Force, Frank Kendall, and Space Command chief Army Gen. James Dickinson all supported the president’s decision, Ryder said.
Dickinson had argued against shifting the headquarters to Alabama on grounds it could put military readiness at risk.
A decision on the headquarters had been pending for months, and coincided with another political argument between the White House and an Alabama lawmaker. While the administration weighed how to proceed, Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville has held up hundreds of military promotions over his opposition to the Pentagon’s abortion policy, which covers the costs of female service members seeking abortions across state lines.
NBC News first reported in May that the Biden administration was reconsidering plans to move Space Command headquarters to Alabama partly because the state has imposed a near total ban on abortion. White House officials have denied Alabama’s restrictive abortion law was a factor in their review.
Alabama lawmakers expressed outrage over the decision and vowed to overturn it.
“This fight is far from over,” Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.
The decision showed that “far-left politics, not national security, was the driving force behind this decision,” Rogers said.
Colorado's Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, who had argued against the move to Alabama, welcomed the news that the command would remain in Colorado Springs.
“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,” Bennet said in a statement.
The Air Force originally recommended the headquarters remain in Colorado but later changed its stance in January 2021 after a White House meeting during the final weeks of President Donald Trump’s administration. Trump later said he was “single-handedly” responsible for the state’s selection over others that were under consideration, but the review did not support that claim.
The Biden White House directed the Air Force last December to conduct a review of the process that led to the Trump administration’s decision to move Space Command’s headquarters from Colorado to Huntsville, Alabama.
The review followed two previous, extensive reviews that took place after Biden took office that found there was no improper political influence on the process that awarded the headquarters to Alabama.
Space Command is a unified Pentagon command with elements from the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, and it is distinct from the separate military branch known as Space Force.