GOP lawmakers seek to block Biden from using abortion to make Space Command decision
By Mike Brest, Defense Reporter
A handful of GOP senators introduced legislation that would prevent the Biden administration from using abortion access in determining the long-term location of Space Command.
SPACECOM is currently located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but during the final days of the Trump administration, the Air Force selected the Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, as the preferred location for its permanent base. Colorado officials are keen on keeping the base there for the roughly 1,400 jobs and millions of dollars of economic impact in their home state, while Alabama lawmakers point to the previous decision as to why the headquarters should be moved.
The legislation, which was introduced by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), is in response to a report by NBC News from mid-May citing anonymous defense and congressional officials who said the White House may be laying the groundwork to halt their intent to relocate to Alabama due to the state’s restrictive abortion laws. Alabama is one of many states that implemented laws restricting abortion access following the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.
A White House official told the Washington Examiner last month that abortion laws are not factors in the review of the permanent location.
“Joe Biden will do anything to further his radical abortion agenda,” Marshall said in a statement to the Washington Examiner. “My legislation ensures the Biden Administration does not exploit ongoing federal projects to further their abortion activism. The Space Force Headquarters should not be used as a political pawn in Biden’s sick abortion politics, and we will see to it that it is not.”
This piece of legislation, which is being co-sponsored by Sens. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Rick Scott (R-FL), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Josh Hawley (R-MO), does not pick a site for where Space Command should be but sayd that access to abortion should not be a factor in the decision-making process.
“I’m fighting every day to stop this administration from weaponizing the government to target states. We’ve seen it over the past few years; Joe Biden will stop at nothing to push his extreme political agenda and punish those who disagree, even if it means targeting parents at the school board meeting, pro-life moms or Catholics. I'm proud to support this legislation," Scott noted, while Hyde-Smith said, “The best interests of taxpayers and government operations should not be held hostage to the Biden administration’s tunnel vision on a radical abortion agenda. Directing government actions based on the availability of abortion on demand isn’t good policy or fiscally sound."
“In a move in line with his leftist agenda, Joe Biden wants to be able to choose federal leases or property buildings based on the accessibility of abortion services in that area. By caving to abortion-on-demand activists, Biden is politicizing an issue that should be impartial. This legislation would prevent Biden from punishing states simply because they support life,” said Blackburn.
“As we approach the first anniversary of the historic Dobbs decision, the liberal assault on the sanctity of life remains in full force,” Cruz said. “To determine the location of federal buildings and installations based on their proximity to readily available abortions is just a continuation of the pro-abortion agenda of Democrats. The location of federal buildings should not be politicized based on the radical left’s ideology. I am proud to stand with Sen. Marshall and my colleagues to protect life and ensure the federal government does not discriminate against red states like Texas and Kansas.”
Additional lawmakers put language in larger bills that would force the Air Force's decision.
The House Armed Services Committee released a draft of the National Defense Authorization Act last week that included a provision that would halt construction spending on the temporary headquarters in Colorado until the Air Force announces its final decision and is able to justify the selection and if Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall’s travel budget would be cut in half until the permanent headquarters are finalized.
The House Appropriations Committee also added language into its separate 2024 military construction funding bill earlier this week that would also halt funding on Space Command's headquarters until a final decision is made.
“Federal building and basing decisions should be based on merit, not a partisan political agenda,” Tuberville said. “Punishing conservative Americans by keeping federal property out of their states would be an extreme and vindictive move, even for this extremist administration. But Alabamians know Joe Biden is considering doing just that with SPACECOM headquarters, which would set a dangerous precedent. Instead, we ought to keep politics out of these decisions and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being invested where they can be most effective. That’s exactly what this legislation would do and why I’m proud to support it.”
Tuberville is involved in his own fight with the Pentagon over its abortion policy. In the aftermath of the court's reversal of Roe v. Wade, the department announced a policy that includes reimbursing the travel expenses for a service member or dependent from traveling out-of-state for an abortion due to local laws.
The Alabama senator has said he believes the policy decision is an illegal expansion of the department's authority and decided to block all DOD promotions or confirmations until it changes its policy. While the Senate Democrats do have a way to get around Tuberville's blockade, it is very time-consuming, and Senate leaders have not indicated their plan to go down that route.
"The department has 64 three- and four-star nominations pending the positions due to rotate soon," Pentagon deputy spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters on Tuesday. "Between now and the end of the year, there are approximately 650 general and flag officers that will require Senate confirmation, and without these leaders in place, these holds severely limit the department's ability to ensure the right person is in place at the right time and to ensure our strategic readiness and operational success."
She said Tuberville's holds set "a dangerous precedent."