On Wednesday, California Democratic Rep. Jared Huffman filed a bill to abolish the U.S. Space Force, which he describes as “flagrantly” wasteful.
The Space Force was established by former President Donald Trump in 2019. Though it is the smallest branch of the Armed Forces, it’s been widely slammed by progressives for having 16,000 personnel and costing billions of dollars a year.
Huffman’s No Militarization of Space Act would axe the Space Force completely. “The long-standing neutrality of space has fostered a competitive, non-militarized age of exploration every nation and generation has valued since the first days of space travel. But since its creation under the former Trump administration, the Space Force has threatened longstanding peace and flagrantly wasted billions of taxpayer dollars,” Huffman said in a statement.
“Our mission must be to support the American people, not spend billions on the militarization of space,” Huffman continued, saying that money going toward the Space Force would be better spent fighting the climate crisis, COVID-19 and inequality in the U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin), Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Illinois) and Maxine Waters (D-California) joined Huffman in introducing the bill.
Before President Joe Biden was inaugurated, progressive lawmakers wrote a letter to the incoming administration asking officials to eliminate the Space Force, criticizing its formation for being unnecessary and for further militarizing the U.S, which is already immersed in a culture of endless war.
“Maybe, just maybe, we should make sure our people are not dying because they lack health insurance before we start spending billions to militarize outer space,” wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) in 2018.
The Space Force is tasked with gathering military intelligence from space and monitoring and transmitting GPS signals from satellites — but although the force has now been in existence for over a year, its function is not exactly clear as yet.
In 2018, retired astronaut Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) pointed out that the U.S. already had an arm of the military serving the same purpose as the Space Force: the Air Force Space Command, which was reorganized and reformed into its own branch.
A press release on the Huffman bill says that the formation of a separate Space Force “creat[ed] bureaucratic confusion and further waste.” The branch received $15.4 billion in funding for the fiscal year 2021, though it was taken from the Air Force budget. The bill directs the Space Force to be reabsorbed into the Air Force.
Critics worry that the Space Force’s existence as its own separate entity will eventually lead to further funding for the Defense Department. “Militarizing space is an unconscionable waste of billions of tax dollars, and it risks extending the worst mistakes of history to the final frontier by inviting conflict and escalation,” said Sean Vitka, senior policy counsel for Demand Progress. “Americans don’t want more wasteful military spending, which means Congress should pass the No Militarization of Space Act before the Space Force budget inevitably skyrockets.”
Political experts have speculated that it is unlikely Biden will support getting rid of the military branch, which has bipartisan approval. Meanwhile, Congress this week is set to authorize the largest budget the Pentagon has ever seen.