WASHINGTON — “Abortion politics” were cited in an NBC News report claiming the White House is planning to overturn plans to move Space Command to Redstone Arsenal.
“The belief is they are delaying any move because of the abortion issue,” one U.S. official said, referring to the White House, according to the network.
Another U.S. official told NBC: “This is all about abortion politics.”
U.S. Rep. Dale Strong was outraged over the report.
“When the Air Force looked at what was in the best interest of national security, they chose Redstone Arsenal to house U.S. Space Command headquarters. Any deviation from that is a slight against those serving in uniform,” said Strong (R-Huntsville). “I’ve seen all the reviews and reports on the basing process – but don’t remember access to late-term abortions being one of the 21 criteria used to evaluate the sites.
“The White House’s inaction and handwringing have brought the consequence of a more than two-year delay for the final basing decision for Space Command. Each passing day is another reminder that the Biden Administration is willing to prioritize bowing down to political pressure over what is best for the military and national defense.”
The office of U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who has been advocating for the move, called the report – if true – “politics at its worst.”
The Air Force announced Redstone Arsenal as the new permanent location of SPACECOM in 2021, following an extensive search for the best location for the combatant command headquarters.
The NBC report also confirmed the subsequent reviews that overwhelmingly supported the move from Colorado Springs.
“Colorado Springs was among the locations considered for a permanent Spacecom headquarters,” NBC said. “But U.S. officials said Colorado did not come close to Alabama as a preferred location when the military conducted its search.”
“This article confirms what we’ve known all along – Huntsville is the best place for U.S. Space Command,” said a spokeswoman for Tuberville (R-Auburn). “To reverse the decision to permanently locate SPACECOM to Huntsville would be politics at its worst.”
Sen. Katie Britt also defended Redstone Arsenal.
“Huntsville finished first in both the Air Force’s Evaluation Phase and Selection Phase, leaving no doubt that the Air Force’s decision to choose Redstone as the preferred basing location was correct purely on the merits,” she said. “That decision should remain in the Air Force’s purview.
“Instead, President Biden is now trying to hand the Gold Medal to the fifth-place finisher.“
According to the NBC report, the White House said Alabama’s abortion ban was not a factor in its ongoing review of the decision to build Spacecom’s permanent headquarters there. A White House official said that access to reproductive health care does not weigh in to making the decision about location.
Officials also reportedly said the push not to move Space Command to Huntsville has nothing to do with Tuberville’s blocking of at least 234 of Biden’s military nominations in protest against the Pentagon’s abortion policy.
The veracity of the report concerned Rep. Robert Aderholt.
“This report, if true, is very concerning for national security,” he said. “This is the second article in two months discussing the possibility of Space Command remaining in Colorado. After the previous article, I questioned Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall directly during a hearing, and he assured us that the Space Command basing decision was his, and his alone.
“He told me that President Biden had put the decision squarely in his hands. I would like to know what has changed in the past two months.”
Strong issued a warning, though, if it is indeed, politics.
“If it is now Department of Defense policy to punish conservative states implementing the will of their voters, I’d suggest that Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, Arizona, Louisiana, Wyoming, Arkansas, Kentucky, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, and Utah start calling the Pentagon to ask if they should be worried about their installations,” he said.
According to NBC, other officials said the White House does not plan to announce its halting of SPACECOM’s move to Alabama until after the standoff with Tuberville over nominees was resolved.
The White House is “trying to delay as much as possible” before announcing a final decision, a third U.S. official said, because “they don’t want to aggravate Tuberville even more.”