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Colorado presses Biden to reverse Trump Space Command move

Colorado Gov. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisMLB All-Star Game officially moved to Denver Colorado governor extends state mask mandate by 1 month New York to expand vaccine eligibility to all on April 6 MORE (D) along with a bipartisan group of state leaders has joined an attempt to reverse a Trump administration decision to move U.S. Space Command headquarters from Colorado Springs to Alabama.

Polis — along with Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera (D), Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers (R), and more than a dozen state legislators — urged Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists The paradox of US-India relations Pentagon chief to visit Europe, Israel amid tensions with Russia, Iran MORE to review the decision before moving forward, Polis’s office said Thursday.

The politicians “respectfully request that you pause the move” of the command responsible for America’s military space forces so that Austin “may conduct a thorough review of the previous administration’s last-minute decision” to move it from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville.

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“Without a review, this hasty decision will undermine our country’s ability to respond to national security threats in space. We have concerns about the transparency, impartiality, and bias of the process that the previous administration used when coming to a final decision that should be addressed prior to any final decision on permanent basing,” they write in Feb. 1 letter.

The letter is the latest plea from Colorado legislators to put a stop to the Space Command move, first announced on Jan. 13.

Peterson Air Force Base is the current provisional headquarters of the command until 2026, though the Trump administration in its final days announced that Huntsville would become its new location. Peterson Air Force Base was one of five other finalists in the two-year competition that also included Brevard County, Florida; Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.; Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.; and Port San Antonio, Texas. 

On Jan. 26, shortly after President Biden took office, Colorado’s entire congressional delegation sent a letter to the White House arguing that “significant evidence exists that the process was neither fair nor impartial and that President TrumpDonald TrumpHarry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' Man arrested for allegedly threatening to stab undercover Asian officer in NYC Trump says GOP will take White House in 2024 in prepared speech MORE’s political considerations influenced the final decision.”

And earlier this week, Rep. Doug LambornDouglas (Doug) LambornThe Navy's reading program undermines America's security GAO to review decision to move Space Command to Alabama Colorado presses Biden to reverse Trump Space Command move MORE (R-Colo.) separately asked the Government Accountability Office to open an investigation into the decision, citing political pressure put on Air Force leaders to relocate the command to Alabama.

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Calls to reevaluate the choice also came from lawmakers in other states, including Reps. Jim CooperJim CooperProgressive group backing primary challenger to Tennessee Democrat GOP leader to try to force Swalwell off panel DeJoy apologizes for mail delays while defending Postal Service changes MORE (D-Tenn.) and John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiBiden to meet with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure Colorado presses Biden to reverse Trump Space Command move Report on military aviation crashes faults lack of training, 'chronic fatigue' MORE (D-Calif.), who last month asked for a Pentagon inspector general investigation as they said the decision “appears to be untethered from national security and military judgment.”

In addition, New Mexico’s Democratic Sens. Ben Ray Luján and Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichGroups petition EPA to remove ethane and methane from list of compounds exempt from emissions limits Senators press for answers in Space Command move decision Democrats wrestle over tax hikes for infrastructure MORE, as well as Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-N.M.), asked Biden in a Jan. 29 letter to pause and review the Trump choice.

In the most recent letter out of Colorado, the state politicians complain that the Air Force’s selection process, which was restarted more than a year into the competition, “represented a significant departure” from the service’s standard basing decision procedures.

They also argue that the process lacked transparency.

“There is significant risk that this hastily made and nontransparent decision will be disruptive to the service members and civilians who are conducting the current mission.”

U.S. Space Command was reestablished in December 2019 after it was shuttered for 17 years due to budget cuts.

The command — which was originally headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base from 1985 to 2002 — employs forces from each of the military services to carry out directed missions in space. It is separate from the U.S. Space Force, which is responsible for organizing, training and equipping space forces.