BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Representative Gary Palmer joined CBS 42 Morning News to discuss attempts to have United States Space Command located in Huntsville, Alabama.
In July, President Biden overturned a decision from the Trump administration to relocate the temporary headquarters of Space Command to Alabama, deciding instead to keep the base in Colorado.
A senior Biden administration official told The Hill Biden believed keeping HQ in Colorado Springs would maintain stability and not impact readiness. Biden spoke with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other military leaders prior to deciding to keep the base in Colorado permanently.
The decision caused outrage among many Alabama representatives, including several who have characterized President Biden’s decision to keep the base in Colorado as a purely political one. An NBC News report in May cited Alabama’s near-total ban on abortion as a reason for why Biden began reviewing the decision to relocate SPACECOM HQ.
Representative Robert Aderhold (R-Ala-04) said at the time of the decision he was outraged that politics affected the process: “I am outraged to hear that the Secretary of the Air Force allowed politics to circumvent his, and the Department of Defense’s, own basing selection process that determined Huntsville, Alabama as the preferred location of SPACECOM. Huntsville was #1, Colorado Springs was #5.”
“Let me put this as plainly as I can. The deciding factor for President Biden in deciding to keep Space Command in Colorado Springs was operational readiness. Pure and simple,” national security adviser John Kirby said in response to questioning over if Biden nixed Alabama because it’s a red state.
Kirby added the decision “had nothing to do with Sen. Tuberville’s holds. Had nothing to do with partisan politics,” referring to Tuberville’s abortion rights-related hold on over 300 military appointees.
Tuberville hold stems from the Defense Department’s abortion policy, which provides paid leave and travel reimbursement for abortions. The senator has argued the policy violates the Hyde Amendment prohibiting federal funds from being used for abortion.
Kirby has defended the policy, claiming it is critical for military readiness.
“There are a good amount of people in the business community and center-right who essentially feel whether or not the Space Command decision is related to Coach’s holds, it certainly has given the Biden administration political cover,” one Alabama Republican source told The Hill, adding that it amounts to “an understandable excuse” for why Biden made the call.
“We think this was purely a political decision and we think there were some things done that were inappropriate,” said Palmer.
When asked if he believed anything illegal was done related to the decision, Palmer said, “I don’t know that I can say illegal, but I don’t think the information we received was straightforward.
“Hopefully, in a few months we’ll have a different president in the White House, and I don’t think they can do the things they need to do to get Space Command permanently located out there in that amount of time.”
“Like I said, we can slow this process down.” Palmer added. “I think Chairman Rogers, Mike Rogers, is already implementing some things to do that.”