Colorado lawmakers invite Harris to tour state’s space industry
Colorado lawmakers want Vice President Harris to visit their state in a bid to get the Biden administration to drop plans to relocate U.S. Space Command headquarters from Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Ala.
A majority of Colorado’s congressional delegation on Wednesday formally invited Harris, the new National Space Council chair, to see how their state “leads the country in space security, innovation, and education,” according to a bipartisan letter led by Sen. Michael Bennet (D).
“As you work to identify the Council’s priorities, we invite you to visit Colorado to experience firsthand the dynamism of our state’s private and public space industry,” the letter states.
“At a time when the threats in this domain are growing by the day, our nation can ill-afford the delay, expense, and attrition associated with relocating Space Command,” they wrote.
In mid-January, during the final days of the Trump administration, the Air Force announced it would move the permanent headquarters of Space Command from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs to the Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville.
The news was highly unexpected as Colorado Springs was long-viewed as the front-runner to host the new headquarters due to Space Command’s predecessor, Air Force Space Command, having been headquartered at Peterson.
Colorado lawmakers have since made a full-court press to convince the Biden administration to reverse the move, arguing that the change was last minute, influenced by politics and ignored Colorado’s already established space installations.
Lawmakers from outside Colorado have also joined in on the fight, with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) last month calling on the administration to review the move over concerns of negative impacts to the intelligence community.
In Wednesday’s letter, the lawmakers point to Colorado’s space-related economy, which they say is the largest in the country on a per capita basis, with “over 500 space-related companies and suppliers, including nine of the nation’s largest aerospace contractors.”
In addition, they highlight the state’s large aerospace workforce, its higher education institutions including the U.S. Air Force Academy, and intelligence and military facilities such as the National Space Defense Center, U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
“The ongoing success of these missions and installations in assessing and mitigating vulnerabilities in space further reaffirms Colorado as the best permanent home for the U.S. Space Command,” the lawmakers wrote.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R) was the sole federal Colorado lawmaker to decline to sign the letter.
It’s unclear if the lawmakers’ pressure on the Biden administration will pay off, as neither President Biden nor Harris have publicly commented on the Space Command move.
But the barrage of letters has prompted the Government Accountability Office to open a review into the Trump-era decision. The Pentagon’s inspector general is also looking into the base selection process.