Biden reverses Space Command move, causing outcry in Alabama

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Biden reverses Space Command move, causing outcry in Alabama

Alabama politicians are seething over the Biden administration’s reversal of former President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Space Command headquarters from Colorado to Alabama.

On Monday, the Pentagon announced

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.

The Pentagon said keeping the headquarters in Colorado will ensure “peak readiness” and allow the agency to most effectively carry out its mission.

In 2019, Trump revived the agency after a 17-year hiatus. During the final days of Trump’s presidency in early 2021, Air Force officials notified Alabama Gov. Kim Ivey that a review by the Trump administration had determined that Huntsville would become the new home of the U.S. Space Command (which is different from the newly created U.S. Space Force). 

Trump has publicly boasted that he “singlehandedly” made the decision to move the headquarters to Alabama. Last year, a Government Accountability Office review of the decision found that it was plagued with “significant shortfalls in its transparency and credibility.”

The Biden administration continued to review the decision. In March, the Air Force secretary said the agency was “doing some additional analysis” before announcing whether Trump’s decision would be upheld by Biden. 

We now have a clear answer: It won’t.

And Alabama officials — Democrats and Republicans alike — aren’t taking it well. 

Ivey, the state’s Republican governor, sent some shots at the Biden administration (and CNN).

Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., claimed the decision to move the base to Alabama was “based on the merits” and said she “expected more from the Biden Administration.”

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., claimed the decision isn’t final: “This is absolutely not over.” And he wrote that Biden has set a precedent that “military bases are to be used as rewards for political support rather than for national security.” 

Tuberville’s claim that Biden is keeping the base in Colorado as an act of political favoritism mirrors claims made about Trump’s decision to move the base from Colorado in the first place. Some thought Trump rewarded Alabama for voting in his favor in the 2020 election (unlike Colorado) or potentially even as a gift to then-Rep. Mo Brooks, a Republican who represented Huntsville and supported Trump’s effort to overturn that election

All things considered, I think it’s understandable that politics would play some role here. Though, not necessarily the quid pro quo kind of politics that Trump appears to have used. 

What I mean is, I can see why the Biden administration wouldn’t want to establish a headquarters in a state that — along with many of its leaders — has become increasingly hostile to civil rights, such as voting, bodily autonomy and access to education. 

Alabama Republicans are currently defying a Supreme Court order telling them to redraw Alabama’s districts in a way that gives Black voters a legitimate shot at electing two representatives of their choice. Alabama Republicans have pushed for laws severely restricting lessons about social inequality. Alabama Republicans have authorized some of the strictest anti-abortion measures in the country. And Tuberville is single-handedly blocking hundreds of the Biden administration’s military nominations and promotions over the military’s policy of providing paid leave and other support to people who must travel out of Alabama for reproductive care that has been banned in the state after the rescission of Roe v. Wade.  

So, not exactly the most welcoming place to work.

And that matters in the military. As I wrote in June, military officials have said oppressive laws targeting marginalized groups harm military readiness. 

If Alabamians are looking for a culprit to blame for their loss of the Space Command base, I’ve identified a couple of suspects: the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado and the rank bigotry in their own state. 

Ja’han Jones

Ja’han Jones is The ReidOut Blog writer. He’s a futurist and multimedia producer focused on culture and politics. His previous projects include “Black Hair Defined” and the “Black Obituary Project.”

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