Democratic Armed Services chairs support Space Force after Biden backing

Ursula Perano
·2 min read

The Democratic chairs of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees are in support of the U.S. Space Force, firmly signaling that the newest branch of the military — championed by former President Trump — will continue under President Biden.

Why it matters: It would take an act of Congress to dissolve the Space Force as a separate service branch, and while Democrats were widely critical of its creation, the political tide now appears to have turned in favor of the force.

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Driving the news: Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jack Reed (D-R.I.) supports the Space Force existing as a separate branch of the military, despite previous comments insisting the force would add unnecessary bureaucracy, a Reed spokesperson tells Axios.

  • Reed’s outright support for the branch comes after White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last month that Space Force has President Biden’s "full support" and is here to stay.

  • Reed told Fox News in 2018 that while America does need to "reorganize [its] space forces ... creating a separate service with all of the infrastructure and the bureaucracy is not the way to go." Many of the Space Force's duties were previously managed by Air Force Space Command.

  • At a 2019 Senate Armed Services hearing on the Space Force, which was projected to be only 16,500 members, Reed questioned why "such a small fighting force" needed its own undersecretary and whether having such a small pool of members would lead to less qualified leadership.

House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith (D-Wash.) also "remains committed to the Space Force as a standalone service," per committee spokesperson Monica Matoush.

Between the lines: Some members, including Democrats, have been jockeying over where the Space Force should be headquartered, also indicating a clear but quiet degree of support for the branch that was authorized under the bipartisan defense spending bill in 2019.

  • But Republicans are at the ready, should any challenge slip through. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) told Axios in a statement, "I will fight any effort to minimize or eliminate the Space Force as a separate branch of America’s military."

What they’re saying: "Senator Reed looks forward to working with the U.S. Defense Department in continuing to refine, hone, and expand our military capabilities in space," Reed spokesperson Chip Unruh wrote.

  • When asked specifically about the Space Force existing as a separate branch, Unruh replied: "Senator Reed supports it and it is the law."

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