Democrat takeover of House casts doubt on Space Force future

Nov. 9 (UPI) — With the results of this week’s midterms leading to a shake-up in the House Armed Services Committee, the future of President Trump’s proposed Space Force branch is looking increasingly uncertain.

With the Democrats taking control of the House and Republicans building on their majority in the Senate, the possibility of budgetary gridlock on military spending has become more likely.

Space Force critic Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., is set to replace current Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, as chairman of the HASC, with other Democrats on the committee also opposing the creation of a new branch due to budgetary concerns and the idea of a new layer of command.

“I am opposed to President Trump’s proposal for a ‘Space Force,'” Smith said in a statement to UPI. “I am concerned that his proposal would create additional costly military bureaucracy at a time when we have limited resources for defense and critical domestic priorities, and I do not believe it is the best way to advance U.S. national security.”

Smith said that he supports further emphasis on national security space efforts despite his opposition to a separate branch, as opposed to the Air Force running most of the nation’s space-based military assets.

“Space is an essential aspect of nearly everything we do today, and I am the first to argue for a renewed focus on its importance,” Smith said. “We must do a better job of dealing with space as a national security priority.”

Congressional critics have expressed reservations over the costs and additional bureaucracy a separate branch would entail, with a separate headquarters costing a projected $ 1 billion alone.

Vice President Mike Pence told the National Space Council in October that the Trump Administration plans to have the Space Force established as a 6th branch of the military in 2020. The proposed funding for the branch will be presented in a 2019 budget proposal and the National Defense Authorization Act.

“We will forge a new era of peace through strength in outer space,” Pence said. “President Trump has stated forcefully a truth that the leaders of the National Defense University have long understood, that space is a warfighting domain, just like the air, land and sea, and America will be just as dominant there as we are here on earth.”

There is still widespread debate concerning how a Space Force would be organized and integrate the space capabilities of the other branches, particularly the Air Force. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson has voiced concern over aspects of the Space Force’s proposed organization, but has said that she supports the idea in general.

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