Defense

Senators press for answers in Space Command move decision

Senators from Colorado, California, New Mexico and Nebraska joined together to press Pentagon investigators to scrutinize key areas of a Trump administration decision to move U.S. Space Command headquarters across the country.

In a letter to Defense Department acting Inspector General Sean O’Donnell, the lawmakers outlined questions they want included in the investigation, which launched last month, of the January decision to move the headquarters from Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Ala.

Specifically, the senators want to know how the Pentagon sidelined an earlier, 2019 competition to choose a location for the command and relied instead on a “new and untested process” for the subsequent evaluation in 2020.

The senators “expressed concern that the Trump White House injected politics into the process,” Colorado Sens. John Hickenlooper (D) and Michael Bennet (D), who led the letter, said in a joint statement.

The letter was also signed by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.).

Peterson Air Force Base is the current provisional headquarters of Space Command until 2026, though the Trump administration in its final days announced that Huntsville would become its new location. The decision reportedly went against Pentagon advisers who pressed to keep the command and its 1,400 troops in Colorado.

Peterson was one of five other finalists in the competition that ended up taking two years and included Brevard County, Fla.; Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.; Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.; and Port San Antonio, Texas. 

Following the announced switch, lawmakers urged the Pentagon and White House to review the decision before moving forward.

The senators now want to know whether the Pentagon’s criteria in evaluating the finalists gave “a consistent, objective, and fair representation of each site’s qualities and conditions,” and whether the department examined sites for existing military facilities that could save on construction dollars.

“Did the Department of Defense consider each of the sites’ existing infrastructure in evaluating costs?” the lawmakers ask.

The Government Accountability Office has also opened a review into the decision.

Tags Alex Padilla Deb Fischer Dianne Feinstein John Hickenlooper Martin Heinrich Michael Bennet

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