White House press secretary Jen Psaki put to rest the question of whether or not President Biden would dismantle the sixth and newest branch of the military, saying on Wednesday that the administration is “not revisiting the decision to establish the Space Force” created by Donald Trump.
Shortly after the 2020 race was called for Joe Biden, almost three dozen progressive groups reportedly called on the then-president-elect to kill the fledgling branch upon assuming office, among other suggested military budget cuts. Most recently, the future of Trump’s national security space mission attracted attention after Psaki was asked a question about it during Tuesday’s press briefing and responded with an answer perceived by some Republican lawmakers as disparaging to its service members, the Guardians. Following the uproar, the press secretary clarified the administration’s embrace of the branch in a tweet, and again during Wednesday’s presser:
The Space Force “absolutely” has the “full support of the Biden administration,” Psaki said, noting that the military branch was established by Congress and thus any steps to disband it would also need to go through Capitol Hill. Asked whether she would apologize for Tuesday’s comments (as Representative Mike Rogers, the top House Armed Service Committee Republican, called on her to do “immediately”), Psaki pointed to her Twitter statement and reiterated that the administration invites Space Force officials to the White House to brief the press on their work. On Wednesday, chief of space operations General John Raymond said he “would welcome” such an opportunity.
House Republicans were quick to denounce the administration for what they viewed as a disrespectful answer, with Representative Michael Waltz, a founding member of the House Space Force Caucus, calling the response “just another example of the Biden administration not taking China seriously while demeaning the incredible work of Space Force personnel.” Mike Rogers leveled a similar criticism: “It’s concerning to see the Biden administration’s press secretary blatantly diminish an entire branch of our military as the punchline of a joke, which I’m sure China would find funny.” It appears that the representatives have not found the humor in a military branch that was the target of a Netflix comedy less than six months after it was founded.