Bipartisan group of lawmakers urge against proposed National Guard move to Space Force

A bipartisan group of House members and senators are calling on the Congressional Armed Services Committees to reject the Biden administration’s proposal to incorporate Air National Guard Service members into the Space Force, calling it “deeply flawed.”

In a letter dated May 6 to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, 56 House members and 29 senators argued the proposal would “undermine” the nation’s National Guard “system.”

In a March legislative proposal to the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Defense Department asked Congress to override an existing law requiring governors to approve changes to National Guard units to shift hundreds of members to the Space Force.

“When individuals sign up for the National Guard, they are serving their country and their community. Congress shouldn’t abandon this model,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “The original intent of the National Guard was to have a force ready to respond to the needs of their state and country. Because of this, authority was placed in the hands of each state’s individual governor.”

“This is more than a matter of governance; governors bear the responsibility to protect the safety of their citizens by maintaining their readiness and deployability of their National Guard units,” the letter continued.

The letter was led by Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), the founding co-chair of the Space Force Caucus, alongside Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo) and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.)

The move, proposed to be a part of Congress’s National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2025, would affect about 14 space units, equal to about 1,000 Air National Guardsmen, Air and Space Forces Magazine reported.

The Hill reached out the House and Senate Armed Services committees for comment.

The letter joins a series of state leaders who are urging the committees against including the proposal. A group of governors from 48 states, territories and commonwealths wrote a letter addressed to Secretary of Defense Llyod Austin in opposition of the proposal last week.

Govs. Greg Abbott (R) and Ron DeSantis (R), notably absent from the letter’s signatories, each penned their own letters slamming the proposal.

In a letter to President Biden sent last week, Abbott argued the proposal would give the Secretary of the Air Force “unilateral authority” to transfer parts of the Air National Guard units into the Space Force without consent from the governor and called it an attempted “power grab.”

DeSantis argued the move “would flout more than a century of precedent and undermine federal law protections for state control of their National Guard forces.” He said his state’s National Guard should already be larger than it is and blamed the federal government for making it “under-resourced.”

A White House official told The Hill on Monday that the Biden administration supports the Defense Department’s suggestion for a one-time transfer of Guard missions into the Space Force and noted it is consistent with the structure approved by Congress in the 2024 defense policy bill.

The official also noted the Biden administration has consistently been against the establishment of a Space National Guard.

Earlier this year, the Air Force announced it would make “sweeping” changes to the military branch and Space Force to ensure the U.S. can meet security demands. These changes include a new field command for the Space Force, called the Space Futures Command, which will be responsible for experimentation, wargaming and mission planning.

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