Denver – Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D) and John Hickenlooper (D) released the following statement after the announcement by the U.S. Department of the Air Force that Huntsville, Alabama, has been named the permanent headquarters of U.S. Space Command and reports that President Trump politicized the process.
“We are deeply disappointed the Trump Administration is trying to move Space Command from Colorado to Alabama. We do not believe this decision reflects the best choice, or even a rational choice, for our national security and ability to confront threats in space. We are concerned by rumors that the Trump White House influenced this decision for political reasons.
“In the spring of 2019, the Air Force named six finalists for the permanent home of Space Command––four of them in Colorado. For reasons that were never clear, in the spring of 2020, the Air Force announced a subsequent process that eventually resulted in six new finalists, this time including only one in Colorado. And now, just as President Trump is leaving office, Colorado was not selected despite reports that it was the Air Force’s top choice. We will work closely with the Colorado delegation to ensure the Biden Administration reviews this purported decision. We believe a process based on the merits will keep Space Command in Colorado. There is no role for politics when it comes to our national security.”
Following the selection of the six finalist communities in Colorado, New Mexico, Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Nebraska, the Air Force announced that they would conduct an in-person visit to each of the sites and a virtual visit with the community. During the Air Force’s visit to Colorado Springs in December, Governor Jared Polis, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, and other community leaders presented the case for why Colorado Springs is the best and only home for U.S. Space Command. Peterson Air Force Base (AFB) is the current provisional headquarters of U.S. Space Command and will be until 2026.
In 2019, Bennet and former U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) led the Colorado Delegation in writing to then-Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and writing to then-Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan and then-Commander of U.S. Space Command General Jay Raymond to emphasize what Colorado offers as a candidate to be the permanent home of U.S. Space Command. Bennet and Gardner also published an op-ed in the Colorado Springs Gazette advocating for the basing decision. Following the White House’s official announcement of the creation of U.S. Space Command in August 2019, the entire Colorado Congressional Delegation reiterated their call for the headquarters to be reestablished in Colorado. In the original basing decision process, of the six possible locations named by the Air Force, four were in Colorado: Peterson AFB, Schriever AFB, Buckley AFB, and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. In the fall of 2019, the Air Force named Peterson AFB the temporary home to U.S. Space Command.
In December 2019, Bennet met with Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett and spoke with the Commander of U.S. Space Command General John W. Raymond to discuss the importance of a focus on national security space and to double down on his support for basing Space Command in Colorado.
In May 2020, the Air Force announced a new basing decision process that evaluated self-nominating communities, like Aurora and Colorado Springs, on their ties to the military space mission, existing infrastructure capacity, community support, and cost to the Air Force. The Air Force also announced Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs would remain the provisional location of the command until 2026. Later in May, Bennet and Gardner wrote a letter to Polis calling for him to support military spouse licensure reciprocity in the state, which Polis then signed into law in July 2020. Spouse licensure reciprocity was a component of the Air Force’s evaluation of each nominating state’s support for military families. Following passage of Colorado House Bill 20-1326, the entire Colorado Congressional Delegation, Polis, and Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera wrote to then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Barrett to highlight the new Colorado law and further demonstrate that Colorado is the best state to serve as the permanent home of the U.S. Space Command.
In June 2020, Bennet welcomed Polis’ endorsement of the self-nomination of both the Aurora and Colorado Springs communities to compete to be the permanent home for U.S. Space Command. At the end of August 2020, the Aurora and Colorado Springs communities submitted their questionnaire responses to the Department of the Air Force completing the next step in the basing process.
In August 2020, Bennet visited Peterson AFB and Schriever AFB for an update on the U.S. Space Command mission and stand up. He also met with General Dickinson, who assumed command in August, and learned about advancements at the National Space Defense Center.
In October 2020, Bennet visited Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado, and Maxar Technologies in Westminster, Colorado, two Colorado-based companies leading the way on civilian, military, and intelligence space technology innovation, and contributing to Colorado’s second to none space-aligned workforce. In October, Bennet also visited the National Reconnaissance Office’s Aerospace Data Facility Colorado (ADF-C) at Buckley AFB. The team at the facility provided an update on the critical intelligence missions that call Colorado home. In November 2020, Colorado Springs was announced as a finalist for the U.S. Space Command headquarters.
In December 2020, Bennet and Hickenlooper joined more than 600 state, federal, local, county and municipal officials, businesspeople, philanthropists, civic leaders, military officials, entrepreneurs and Coloradans from across the state in a letter urging Trump to keep the Command in the Centennial State.