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.

Biden-Trump rematch is coming closer to reality

The presidential rematch many Americans say they don't want is coming closer to reality: President Biden vs. former President Trump in 2024.

Biden made his reelection bid official on Tuesday in a video announcement, and he is widely anticipated to be his party's nominee next year. 

Trump faces a tougher road to winning his party's nomination, with a field of primary challengers taking shape and expected to grow. But he so far is the clear front-runner despite a host of legal troubles, leading the pack in some polls by double-digits a few months out from the first scheduled debate.

The rematch would be a replay of one of the most negative and divisive elections in American history, culminating in Trump's refusal to concede and a riot by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol that forced the evacuation of Congress.

“There aren’t going to be that many people excited about a rematch because there aren’t that many people who want both of these people running for president,” said David Hopkins, an author and political science professor at Boston College.

An NBC News poll published Sunday found 70 percent of Americans and 51 percent of Democrats don’t think Biden should run for reelection in 2024. The same poll found 60 percent of Americans and roughly one-third of Republicans do not think Trump should run again.

An Associated Press poll published Friday found 65 percent of adults said they would probably or definitely not support Trump in a general election, compared to 56 percent who said the same about Biden.

Experts and strategists believe there are several factors contributing to the public’s lack of desire to see Trump and Biden face each other for a second time.

“Often, when you ask people, ‘Would you like someone else,’ it’s easy to conjure a hypothetical alternative candidate,” Hopkins said. “But when you ask people about flesh and blood alternatives, they tend to be less popular.”

For Biden, questions about his age continue to weigh on voters’ minds. Biden, who is 80, was the oldest president ever to be sworn in two years ago, and he would be 86 at the end of a full second term.

The NBC News poll found that of those who said Biden should not run again, 48 percent cited his age as a major reason. 

It is not unusual for an incumbent president to seek another term. What is unusual is a former president seeking to win back the White House while retaining his hold on the party, especially one like Trump who has been at the center of numerous unprecedented controversies for the past eight years, including two impeachments and a recent arrest in New York City.

“Some people aren’t happy with that matchup because anything with Donald Trump’s name attached to it, they’re not happy,” said Jim Kessler, co-founder of the centrist think tank Third Way.

A Trump-Biden rematch would carry echoes of a particularly brutal 2020 presidential campaign that was set against the backdrop of the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide protests sparked by the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. It featured vitriolic personal attacks, particularly from Trump’s team against Hunter Biden, and was marred by Trump's refusal to accept the results and the subsequent attack on the Capitol.

There have been times over the past two years when a Biden-Trump rematch did not seem as inevitable as it may now.

Republican leaders sought to distance themselves from Trump early in the aftermath of the violent attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, which was fueled by the former president’s repeated claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent and stolen from him.

Biden, meanwhile, faced skepticism throughout 2022 from Democrats about whether he warranted a second term given his age and concerns about rampant inflation.

Democrats have since rallied behind Biden, who is not facing a serious primary challenge, after a stronger-than-expected showing in last November’s midterms, a raft of bipartisan legislation passed last year and the president’s handling of the war in Ukraine.

At the same time, Trump has solidified his grip on the GOP, earning a slew of endorsements from members of Congress in recent weeks. Sunday’s NBC News poll found Trump leading a hypothetical GOP primary with 46 percent support, with his next closest competition Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who polled at 31 percent.

National polls have consistently shown Trump with a double-digit lead on DeSantis and other would-be challengers, though state-level polls show a closer race, and in some cases have the Florida governor narrowly leading the former president.

For Biden and his team, the possibility of a rematch with Trump is “top of mind,” said Jen Psaki, the former White House press secretary, Sunday on her MSNBC show.

“A race against Trump is definitely not a battle of policy ideas … which is why the comparison that the White House is focused on is not entirely on policy differences,” Psaki said. “It’s between a competent president and a chaotic Republican Party. Competence versus chaos. As of now, that contrast is kind of playing out on its own.”

“Biden did beat Trump last time, but he still has an incredibly tough fight ahead of him,” she added.

While polls have underscored the sense of national fatigue at the prospect of a Trump-Biden rematch, recent election cycles have indicated voters are as engaged as ever.

More than 158 million Americans cast ballots in the 2020 presidential election, a record for turnout. 

The 2022 elections saw the second-highest voter turnout for a midterm since 2002, with roughly 107 million votes cast. The highest turnout came in 2018, when Trump was in office.

With Trump a big driver of turnout for Republicans who support him and Democrats who oppose him — and issues like abortion likely to be key for voters in 2024 — it’s expected that even those who’d rather see other candidates atop the ballot will still head to the polls next November.

“Anger is a great motivator in politics, and dissatisfaction can actually stimulate people to be more engaged with politics rather than to be apathetic,” said Hopkins. “That seems to be a big part of the story of why in our polarized age we’re seeing a surge in political activity. A lot of people are very strongly motivated by their dislike of at least one of the parties or at least one of the candidates.”

--Updated at 6:11 a.m.

Mayorkas says administration to announce plans to address expected border surge

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says the Biden administration is getting ready to announce a new border security plan to handle an expected surge of migrants when pandemic-era immigration restrictions lift May 11.

“I think next week we’ll have more to say about our preparation and some of the things we are going to be doing,” Mayorkas told reporters at the Department of Homeland Security headquarters on Thursday.

President Biden has come under steady fire from Republican lawmakers over his administration’s handling of the border. This week, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) filed a vote of no confidence resolution against Mayorkas, saying his handling of the border is negligent.

“I stand at the ready to receive articles of impeachment from the House and conduct an impeachment trial in this body,” Marshall said at a Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday. “But in the meantime, I think the Senate must show our colleagues in the House that we’ve had enough of the failures from the Department of Homeland Security and believe that the secretary is not fit to faithfully carry out the duties of his office.”

Illegal border crossings are expected to increase significantly starting in May once pandemic-era rules on immigration expire, most notably Title 42, which allows the U.S. to quickly turn away undocumented migrants without allowing them to seek asylum in the interest of public health.

“We’re certainly going to see numbers higher than we’re seeing today,” Border Patrol Commissioner Troy Miller said in a hearing Wednesday.

Miller cited U.N. statistics that an estimated 660,000 migrants are traveling through Mexico right now. He said the number of border crossings could nearly double to about 10,000 per day.

Mayorkas did not disclose what the new plan would be, but he said the department would prepare with additional bed space in migrant facilities.

Nearly 2 million migrants have been turned back from the border using Title 42. The Biden administration has come under fire from Democrats and activists who have said the measure does not provide border crossers with their right to seek asylum in the U.S.

The administration has attempted to overturn Title 42 in the past but ran into roadblocks in federal court and opposition from Republican lawmakers in border states. With the coronavirus pandemic officially over, the administration no longer expects any legal challenges.

Mayorkas said the department is considering a new rule to more easily deny asylum claims. Migrants who have not applied for asylum in other countries on their way to the U.S. or have crossed the border illegally would not be eligible for asylum. 

The rule is in the public comment period, and Mayorkas said Tuesday that there is not a specific date for implementation as of now.

Mayorkas was questioned by House and Senate lawmakers this week in hearings that saw him receive harsh criticism and some personal attacks.

Much of the criticism was focused on reports that a significant number of child migrants were placed with sponsors who forced them to work, sometimes through the night, at dangerous factories.

Immigration is expected to be a major issue in the 2024 election; Biden is expected to announce his reelection campaign in the coming days.

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.

House conservatives prep plans to impeach Biden

Republicans hoping to seize control of the House in November are already setting their sights on what is, for many of them, a top priority next year: impeaching President Biden. 

A number of rank-and-file conservatives have already introduced impeachment articles in the current Congress against the president. They accuse Biden of committing "high crimes" in his approach to a range of issues touching on border enforcement, the coronavirus pandemic and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Those resolutions never had a chance of seeing the light of day, with Democrats holding a narrow control of the lower chamber. But with Republicans widely expected to win the House majority in the midterms, many of those same conservatives want to tap their new potential powers to oust a president they deem unfit. Some would like to make it a first order of business.

“I have consistently said President Biden should be impeached for intentionally opening our border and making Americans less safe,” said Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.). “Congress has a duty to hold the President accountable for this and any other failures of his Constitutional responsibilities, so a new Republican majority must be prepared to aggressively conduct oversight on day one.”

The conservative impeachment drive is reminiscent of that orchestrated by liberals four years ago, as Democrats took control of the House in 2019 under then-President Trump. At the time, a small handful of vocal progressives wanted to impeach Trump, largely over accusations that he’d obstructed a Justice Department probe into Russian ties to his 2016 campaign. The idea was repeatedly rejected by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), not least out of fear that it would alienate voters in tough battleground districts. 

The tide turned when a whistleblower accused Trump of pressuring a foreign power to find dirt on his political opponent — a charge that brought centrist Democrats onto the impeachment train. With moderates on board, Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry in September of 2019, eight months after taking the Speaker’s gavel. Three months later, the House impeached Trump on two counts related to abusing power.

The difference between then and now is that liberals, in early 2019, were fighting a lonely battle with scant support. This year, heading into the midterms, dozens of conservatives have either endorsed Biden’s impeachment formally, or have suggested they’re ready to support it. 

At least eight resolutions to impeach Biden have been offered since he took office: Three related to his handling of the migrant surge at the southern border; three targeting his management of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year; one denouncing the eviction moratorium designed to help renters during the pandemic; and still another connected to the overseas business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden.

Those proposals will expire with the end of this Congress. But some of the sponsors are already vowing to revisit them quickly next year. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), the lead sponsor of four of the impeachment resolutions, is among them. 

“She believes Joe Biden should have been impeached as soon as he was sworn in, so of course she wants it to happen as soon as possible," Nick Dyer, a Greene spokesman, said Monday in an email. 

A noisy impeachment push from the GOP’s right flank could create headaches for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), the Republican leader in line to be Speaker, and other party brass just as the 2024 presidential cycle heats up. 

On the one hand, impeaching Biden could alienate moderate voters and hurt the GOP at the polls, as was the case in 1998 following the impeachment of President Clinton. Already, GOP leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) are throwing cold water on the impeachment talk, suggesting it could damage Republicans politically in the midterms. 

On the other hand, ignoring the conservatives’ impeachment entreaties might spark a revolt from a Republican base keen to avenge the Democrats’ two impeachments of Trump, who remains the most popular national figure in the GOP. McCarthy knows well the perils of angering the far right: The Freedom Caucus had nudged Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) into an early retirement in 2015, deeming him insufficiently conservative, then prevented McCarthy from replacing him.

McCarthy’s office did not respond Monday to a request for comment. 

The challenge facing Republican leaders in a GOP-controlled House will be to demonstrate an aggressive posture toward the administration, to appease conservatives, without alienating moderate voters in the process. 

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) appears to be walking that line. Last summer, she called Biden “unfit to serve as president,” but stopped short of endorsing his impeachment. 

Stefanik’s office did not respond to requests for comment. 

Another strategy GOP leaders may adopt is to impeach a high-ranking member of the administration, but not the president himself. Several resolutions have been introduced to do just that, separately targeting Vice President Harris, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland. 

McCarthy, during a visit to the southern border earlier in the year, had floated the idea of impeaching Mayorkas if he is found to be “derelict” in his job of securing the border. And the concept has plenty of support among conservatives.   

“Mayorkas and Garland have purposefully made our country less safe, politicized their departments, and violated the rule of law. In some instances, they have instructed their subordinates to disobey our laws. That is unacceptable,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), who has endorsed a number of impeachment resolutions this year, said in an email. 

“Next January I expect the House to pursue my impeachment articles against Mayorkas as well as Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene’s impeachment articles that I co-sponsored against Attorney General Merrick Garland,” Biggs added.

Still, conservatives like Biggs, the former head of the Freedom Caucus, also want to go straight to the top by impeaching Biden. And it remains unclear if anything less than that will appease the GOP’s restive right flank — one that’s expected to grow next year with the arrival of a number of pro-Trump conservatives vowing to take on anyone they consider to be part of Washington’s political establishment. 

Some Republicans said the decision whether to endorse impeachment next year will simply hinge on events. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), for instance, has endorsed two impeachment resolutions this cycle related to the Afghanistan withdrawal, but “has made no decisions yet on supporting impeachment articles next year with Republicans in the majority,” according to spokesman Austin Livingston. 

“He will wait to see what those efforts look like, specifically how they align with Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution," Livingston said, referring to the section outlining Congress’s impeachment powers. 

But others are eager to use a GOP majority to hold Biden’s feet to the fire. And that energy doesn’t appear to be fleeting, particularly when it comes to the border crisis, which could very well remain a hot topic six months from now. 

Rep. Mary Miller (R), a strong Trump supporter who recently won an Illinois primary over the more moderate Rep. Rodney Davis (R), said Biden should be removed “for purposely ignoring our immigration laws.”

“Biden and Harris have failed their most basic duty,” Miller said, “which is ensuring the safety of the American people through the security of our borders.”

Biden focuses on stimulus plan as Dems gear up for Trump’s Senate trial

Former President Trump's Senate impeachment trial begins on Tuesday, with Democrats, who have 50 seats in addition to VP Harris's vote, gearing up to convict him of inciting the Capitol insurrection. Meanwhile, President Biden is focusing on his $1.9 trillion pandemic stimulus package. Special Correspondent Jeff Greenfield joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss.

Biden begins his presidency with a flurry of executive orders

President Biden moved on a broad front Thursday to put his stamp on national policy, unveiling a number of new measures and pledging to confront the nation's public health crisis with COVID-19. White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor joins Judy Woodruff to discuss Biden's response to the pandemic, confirmation hearings and former President Trump's impeachment trial.

News Wrap: U.S. surpasses 400,000 deaths from COVID-19

In our news wrap Tuesday, the U.S. reached 400,000 deaths from COVID nearly equaling the number of Americans killed in World War II, President-elect Biden had an emotional departure from his home state of Delaware on the eve of inauguration, Biden will offer a sweeping immigration bill once in office, and the incoming Senate majority leader says President Trump's impeachment trial is a priority.