Biden overturns Trump decision to move Space Command HQ from Colorado to Alabama

President Biden overturned a decision from the Trump administration to relocate the temporary headquarters of Space Command to Alabama, deciding instead to keep the base in Colorado.

The decision was made because Biden believes keeping the HQ in Colorado Springs, rather than relocating it to Huntsville, would maintain stability and not impact readiness, according to a senior U.S. official.

The senior administration official said Biden consulted with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other military leaders before deciding to keep the base in Colorado permanently.

Gen. James Dickinson, the head of Space Command, also helped to convince Biden to not relocate the base, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. Space Command headquarters is set to achieve “full operational capability” at Colorado Springs later this month, according to the senior administration official.

The official said moving the headquarters to Alabama would force a transition process that does not allow the new base to open until the mid-2030’s.  

"The President found that risk unacceptable, especially given the challenges we may face in the space domain during this critical time period," the official said. "Locating Headquarters U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs ensures peak readiness in the space domain for our nation during a critical period."

Biden's reversal is likely to spark the fury of Alabama Republicans who have for months feared the administration would scrap the relocation plan.

Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers (R), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has been investigating the delay behind the relocation plan, which was first put in motion when Space Command was resurrected in 2019.

Former President Trump's decision to temporarily establish a headquarters in Colorado and relocate Space Command to Alabama was criticized as a political choice based upon a more favorable constituency in the Yellowhammer state.

Since coming into office, the Biden administration ordered reviews of the decision, none of which found anything improper in Trump's decision, though they found the former president could have followed better practices in the process.

The delayed relocation reached new heights over the spring when NBC News reported the Biden administration was considering scrapping the relocation plan because of restrictive abortion laws in Alabama.

Rogers and other Alabama Republicans objected to any such plan, saying Huntsville, also known as Rocket City, was selected based on its merits and in a fair process, while pointing to the reviews that found nothing improper.

The House version of the annual defense bill that passed earlier this month includes provisions that slash funding for the Air Force Secretary until the administration makes a final decision. It's unclear whether Rogers will be satisfied with a reversal.

Other Alabama politicians, including Gov. Kay Ivey (R), quickly blasted the the decision as political. Alabama overwhelmingly voted for Trump in the 2020 election and has two GOP senators, while Colorado voted for Biden and has two Democratic senators.

Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) said the base Redstone Arsenal in Alabama was the correct location based on its merits, arguing "Biden has irresponsibly decided to yank a military decision out of the Air Force’s hands in the name of partisan politics."

"The President’s blatant prioritization of partisan political considerations at the expense of our national security, military modernization, and force readiness is a disservice and a dishonor to his oath of office as our nation’s Commander-in-Chief," she said in a statement.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby reiterated during an interview with CNN on Monday that the president's decision was entirely due to national security considerations, pointing specifically to the rising threat from China.

"This was really a decision based on one thing and one thing only for a president and that was operational readiness," Kirby said. "He took the inputs of many leaders across the Department of Defense that when it came down to it, he believes that it's in the best national security interest of the country if we leave Space Command in Colorado."

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett (D) joined officials from his state in celebrating Biden's decision.

"Over the past two and half years, we have repeatedly made the case that the Trump administration’s decision to relocate U.S. Space Command was misguided," the senator wrote on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

"Today’s decision restores integrity to the Pentagon’s basing process and sends a strong message that national security and the readiness of our Armed Forces drive our military decisions," he added.

Updated at 5:34 pm ET.

Pentagon slams Tuberville for setting ‘dangerous precedent’ by holding up nominations

The Pentagon on Tuesday slammed Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) for setting a "dangerous precedent" by holding up more than 200 general and flag officer nominations over the Defense Department's new abortion policy.

"Without these leaders in place, these holes severely limit the department's ability to ensure the right person is in place at the right time, and to ensure a strategic readiness and operational success," said Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh at a Tuesday briefing.

Singh said the holdup was placing Washington's ability to counter Russia and China at risk.

"These holds set a dangerous precedent and puts our military readiness at risk at a time when our military is expected to defend the nation and meet the acute threat of Russia and address the pacing challenge of the PRC," she continued, referring to the People's Republic of China.

More Tommy Tuberville coverage from The Hill

Tuberville has been blocking the nominees from confirmation in the Senate since March over the Pentagon's policy, which provides paid time off and reimburses travel costs for servicemembers who travel for an abortion.

Last week, the White House also blasted the holdup, following rebukes from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and seven former Pentagon chiefs who have also warned about the precedent of blocking the nomination of important military officers.

The blockade could also end up impacting nominees for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including the replacement for chairman and Gen. Mark Milley later this year.

President Biden this week said Tuberville's block on the nominees was "bizarre," prompting a response from the senator.

"What is actually bizarre is Joe Biden's obsession with making taxpayers pay for abortion without Congress ever taking a vote," Tuberville tweeted. "It’s bizarre and it’s wrong."

Tuberville says the policy, enacted last year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, is a violation of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds to pay for abortion services.

The Alabama senator is refusing to back down and has reportedly rejected off-ramps from fellow Republican colleagues, saying he will only support an end to the blockade if the Pentagon drops the policy or if the policy is codified in law.

House Republicans advance bill increasing veteran spending but reducing key medical fund

House Republicans advanced an appropriations bill Wednesday that would increase spending for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by $18 billion from last fiscal year but significantly reduce a key fund providing care for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs introduced the bill, which would fully fund the VA budget request and provide about $152 billion in discretionary spending for the agency, up from the Biden administration's request of $142.8 billion.

But the legislation was passed by the subcommittee despite concerns from Democrats over a $14.7 billion cut to the Toxic Exposures Fund from the Biden administration's request of about $20 billion for the medical benefits allocation.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the ranking member of the subcommittee, said the "message Republicans are sending to the American people is they are not interested in protecting veterans."

"In spite of the imaginary topline of this bill, it still underfunds our commitment to our veterans," she said at the legislation's markup session.

Republicans argue they met a promise to not cut veterans spending after a huge fight with Democrats and veterans organizations over potential reductions to the VA.

Those concerns were raised after the House passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act last month, which caps all new non-defense spending at fiscal 2022 levels, amounting to a $130 billion topline cut across all federal agencies except the Defense Department.

Republicans pledged not to cut the VA and said reduced spending could be made at other agencies instead.

Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, said Wednesday that the bill "responsibly funds veterans health care."

"It will ensure our veterans get the treatment they deserve," she said. "It's a strong bill."

While the bill passed out of the subcommittee, it is still in the markup phase and will need to pass the full Appropriations Committee before heading to the House floor.

All appropriations bills setting up funding for the next fiscal year are usually passed by the end of September after approval by both the House and the Senate.

Some veterans organizations have blasted the veterans spending legislation for reducing the Toxic Exposures Fund, which is crucial to helping veterans get care for exposure to toxic chemicals.

That's especially important after Congress approved the PACT Act last year, which expanded veteran access to toxins exposure benefits. More than 500,000 claims have already been filed through the PACT Act.

"House Republicans are shortchanging the Fund by $14.7 BILLION dollars," tweeted progressive group VoteVets. "Breaking a promise to Veterans—and lying to us on top of it."

Republicans included around $5.5 billion for the fund. GOP lawmakers said they rejected the additional allocations for the Toxic Exposure Fund over concerns about it being included in mandatory spending.

Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), chairman of the Military and Veterans Affairs subcommittee, said Republicans "did not accept the proposed shift of more than $14 billion to the mandatory side of the budget" for the Toxic Exposure Fund.

"Instead, we utilized the Cost of War Toxic Exposure Fund as intended: to cover the incremental costs above the [fiscal 2021] baseline to implement the PACT Act," Carter said in a Wednesday statement during the markup hearing.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, delivered a lengthy statement in opposition to the legislation.

She said the bill is "completely detached from reality" and breaks a promise from the PACT Act.

"Do not tell me that Republicans are fully funding programs," DeLauro said at the markup. "The larger Republican agenda does nothing to protect veterans from their proposed cuts."

Separately, the subcommittee legislation also includes more than $17 billion for the Defense Department's military construction projects and for military housing, an increase of more than $900 million from the Biden administration's request.

Rep. Raskin announces cancer diagnosis

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) on Wednesday revealed he has been diagnosed with "a serious but curable form of cancer."

Raskin said in a statement he was diagnosed with a common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that affects white blood cells in the body's immune system.

The 60-year-old lawmaker said he was beginning chemo-immunotherapy at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

"I expect to be able to work through this period but have been cautioned by my doctors to reduce unnecessary exposure to avoid COVID-19, the flu and other viruses," he said.

Raskin said he was specifically diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, which usually develops in the lymph nodes deep inside the body. While fast-growing and aggressive, the cancer is treatable.

The lawmaker has held several prominent roles in Congress in recent years, including serving on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and serving as an impeachment manager during President Trump's second impeachment in 2021.

On Wednesday, Raskin said he plans to "get through this" and "keep making progress every day in Congress for American democracy."

“My love and solidarity go out to other families managing cancer or any other health condition in this holiday season—and all the doctors, nurses and medical personnel who provide us comfort and hope," he added.

28 percent in new poll want focus on presidential impeachment investigation

About 28 percent of American voters questioned in a new poll say the incoming Republican majority in the House should investigate the potential impeachment of President Biden.

Just 6 percent of Democrats in the Morning Consult-Politico poll said focusing on the impeachment of Biden was a top priority for them, compared to 55 percent of Republicans.

Some Republicans have long promised to launch impeachment proceedings against Biden if the GOP won the majority in Congress after the midterm elections, including far-right lawmaker Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

Republicans did secure control of the House in the midterm elections, although with a narrower majority than some observers expected.

In a conference vote last week, the party voted to keep House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in the leadership post.

McCarthy, who still has to win votes on the floor when the next Congress assembles in January to become Speaker, has seemed less amenable to impeachment proceedings.

In an interview with CNN earlier this month, McCarthy promised he would never pursue impeachment proceedings for "political purposes," but said that "doesn't mean if something rises to the occasion it would not be used."

The GOP has also promised to launch a multitude of probes once it assumes the majority next year, including investigations into President Biden's son, Hunter Biden, and his business dealings.

About 28 percent of American voters say they back an investigation into Hunter Biden, according to the Morning Consult poll. About 7 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans say the next Congress should focus on investigating Hunter Biden.

President Biden has called the possible impeachment probes "almost comedy."

“I think the American public want us to move on and get things done for them,” he added.

The Morning Consult-Politico poll was conducted Nov. 10-14 among 1,983 registered voters. The margin of error is 2 percentage points.

Incoming House Republican: GOP shouldn’t launch probes in first six months

Rep.-elect George Santos (R-N.Y.) said Republicans should not launch divisive investigations for at least six months and should instead focus efforts on improving the lives of Americans who voted them into office.

Fox News anchor Sandra Smith asked Santos about a long list of probes being proposed by some in the GOP, from the origins of COVID-19 to Big Tech censorship, the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago, Hunter Biden and the southern border crisis.

"If parts of our party want to go into these investigations, that's their prerogative," Santos said. "I don't want to waste my time in Washington engaging in hyperpartisan issues. I want to come here to deliver results."

The incoming lawmaker said Republicans for the first six months should concentrate on making America energy independent, reducing crime in metropolitan areas and supporting education.

The GOP, which is expected to take over the House but with a narrow majority, has considered a range of inquiries and even impeachment proceedings against Biden Cabinet officials.

Santos flipped a blue district that President Biden won in 2020, beating Democrat Robert Zimmerman in New York's 3rd Congressional District.

"Look, I'm not saying they're a waste of time," Santos said of the probes. "I'm just saying that they shouldn't hold priority over the issues at hand which are affecting every American's day-to-day life."