Why the Midterms Could Kill Trump's Space Force

Why the Midterms Could Kill Trump's Space Force


The fate of President Trump’s new military branch could depend on the outcomes of the midterm elections, says Joe Gould of Defense News. The Pentagon is working on a plan to create the Space Force, which Trump called for back in June, but there’s still a long way to go before that plan becomes reality. Perhaps most importantly, the creation of a new branch of the military requires an act of Congress, and a Democratically-controlled House may not have much interest in granting Trump’s wish.

The outlook is complicated by the fact that two outspoken opponents of the Space Force -- Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) – are in the middle of close battles to keep their seats, Gould says. But if they manage to win their races, their opposition could be decisive.

Coffman, chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, said last month, “The president wants to create a whole new department of space, and if that requires authorizing language in the Armed Services Committee, I expect to lead the effort to kill that in committee.”

If Democrats take the House, Coffman would lose his chairmanship, but his likely Democratic replacement, Adam Smith (D-WA), also opposes the White House plan. “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 in September.

Nelson, a former astronaut who represents the home state of the Air Force Space Command, says there is strong opposition to the Space Force plan within the Pentagon. “The president told a US general to create a new Space Force as 6th branch of military … which generals tell me they don’t want,” Nelson said in June. “Thankfully the president can’t do it without Congress because now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart. Too many important missions at stake.”

The Air Force said in September that it would cost $13 billion to create and operate the Space Force over it first five years, though some supporters of the plan say that the estimate is too high and was produced as part of an effort to eliminate the new military branch before it could get off the ground.