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.
The decision was made because Biden believes keeping the HQ in Colorado Springs, rather than relocating it to Huntsville, would maintain stability and not impact readiness, according to a senior U.S. official.
The senior administration official said Biden consulted with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other military leaders before deciding to keep the base in Colorado permanently.
Gen. James Dickinson, the head of Space Command, also helped to convince Biden to not relocate the base, according to the Associated Press.
U.S. Space Command headquarters is set to achieve “full operational capability” at Colorado Springs later this month, according to the senior administration official.
The official said moving the headquarters to Alabama would force a transition process that does not allow the new base to open until the mid-2030’s.
“The President found that risk unacceptable, especially given the challenges we may face in the space domain during this critical time period,” the official said. “Locating Headquarters U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs ensures peak readiness in the space domain for our nation during a critical period.”
Biden’s reversal is likely to spark the fury of Alabama Republicans who have for months feared the administration would scrap the relocation plan.
Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers (R), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has been investigating the delay behind the relocation plan, which was first put in motion when Space Command was resurrected in 2019.
Former President Trump’s decision to temporarily establish a headquarters in Colorado and relocate Space Command to Alabama was criticized as a political choice based upon a more favorable constituency in the Yellowhammer state.
Since coming into office, the Biden administration ordered reviews of the decision, none of which found anything improper in Trump’s decision, though they found the former president could have followed better practices in the process.
The delayed relocation reached new heights over the spring when NBC News reported the Biden administration was considering scrapping the relocation plan because of restrictive abortion laws in Alabama.
Rogers and other Alabama Republicans objected to any such plan, saying Huntsville, also known as Rocket City, was selected based on its merits and in a fair process, while pointing to the reviews that found nothing improper.
The House version of the annual defense bill that passed earlier this month includes provisions that slash funding for the Air Force Secretary until the administration makes a final decision. It’s unclear whether Rogers will be satisfied with a reversal.
Other Alabama politicians, including Gov. Kay Ivey (R), quickly blasted the the decision as political. Alabama overwhelmingly voted for Trump in the 2020 election and has two GOP senators, while Colorado voted for Biden and has two Democratic senators.
Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) said the base Redstone Arsenal in Alabama was the correct location based on its merits, arguing “Biden has irresponsibly decided to yank a military decision out of the Air Force’s hands in the name of partisan politics.”
“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,” she said in a statement.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby reiterated during an interview with CNN on Monday that the president’s decision was entirely due to national security considerations, pointing specifically to the rising threat from China.
“This was really a decision based on one thing and one thing only for a president and that was operational readiness,” Kirby said. “He took the inputs of many leaders across the Department of Defense that when it came down to it, he believes that it’s in the best national security interest of the country if we leave Space Command in Colorado.”
Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett (D) joined officials from his state in celebrating Biden’s decision.
“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,” the senator wrote on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
“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,” he added.
Updated at 5:34 pm ET.