Mar 2, 2021 - Science

Dem Armed Services chairs support Space Force after Biden backing

Sen. Jack Reed

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

The Democratic chairs of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees are in support of the U.S. Space Force, firmly signaling that the newest branch of the military — championed by former President Trump — will continue under President Biden.

Why it matters: It would take an act of Congress to dissolve the Space Force as a separate service branch, and while Democrats were widely critical of its creation, the political tide now appears to have turned in favor of the force.

Driving the news: Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jack Reed (D-R.I.) supports the Space Force existing as a separate branch of the military, despite previous comments insisting the force would add unnecessary bureaucracy, a Reed spokesperson tells Axios.

  • Reed’s outright support for the branch comes after White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last month that Space Force has President Biden’s "full support" and is here to stay.
  • Reed told Fox News in 2018 that while America does need to "reorganize [its] space forces ... creating a separate service with all of the infrastructure and the bureaucracy is not the way to go." Many of the Space Force's duties were previously managed by Air Force Space Command.
  • At a 2019 Senate Armed Services hearing on the Space Force, which was projected to be only 16,500 members, Reed questioned why "such a small fighting force" needed its own undersecretary and whether having such a small pool of members would lead to less qualified leadership.

House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith (D-Wash.) also "remains committed to the Space Force as a standalone service," per committee spokesperson Monica Matoush.

Between the lines: Some members, including Democrats, have been jockeying over where the Space Force should be headquartered, also indicating a clear but quiet degree of support for the branch that was authorized under the bipartisan defense spending bill in 2019.

  • But Republicans are at the ready, should any challenge slip through. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) told Axios in a statement, "I will fight any effort to minimize or eliminate the Space Force as a separate branch of America’s military."

What they’re saying: "Senator Reed looks forward to working with the U.S. Defense Department in continuing to refine, hone, and expand our military capabilities in space," Reed spokesperson Chip Unruh wrote.

  • When asked specifically about the Space Force existing as a separate branch, Unruh replied: "Senator Reed supports it and it is the law."
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