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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."

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Mar 2, 2021 - Science

We're starting to take the Sun seriously

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Politicians, the public and scientists are increasingly paying attention to the danger solar storms pose for life on Earth and off of it.

Why it matters: Solar storms can wreak havoc on our modern, technology-dependent way of life.

2 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

2 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."