A long shot for Alabama to win back Space Command? ‘I don’t think it is,’ congressman says
al.com August 17, 2023
(Tribune News Service) — The speech included talking points about national defense and immigration enforcement.
But the one line that generated spontaneous applause Wednesday concerned Space Command as Congressman Dale Strong addressed about 1,000 community and business leaders at a Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
“Stay tuned because this process is not over by a long shot,” Strong said.
And the applause immediately rippled across the Von Braun Center meeting hall.
To conclude that the process is over, though, is perhaps reasonable. President Biden in July announced that Space Command headquarters would remain at its start-up location near Colorado Springs, Colo., instead of coming to Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal – contrary to a bevy of reports and analyses that ranked Redstone as the best site.
In his speech and in a media gaggle afterward, Strong repeatedly put his hope in House committee hearings to unearth issues to undermine the White House decision.
Specifically, Strong pointed to the desire of the House Armed Services Committee – of which he is a member and is chaired by Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers of Saks – to question Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and Space Command Commanding Gen. James Dickinson.
“It’s time for Secretary Kendall and Gen. Dickinson to answer questions under oath,” Strong told the chamber audience.
Still, is that enough? Should it be considered a long shot for Biden to reverse his decision on Space Command HQ?
“I don’t think it is,” Strong said.
In his speech, Strong said he wanted Space Command at Redstone Arsenal not because it’s best for north Alabama but because it’s best for national defense. And in comments after the speech, Strong made clear he’s not ready to concede to Colorado Springs – which consistently ranked as the fourth or fifth in studies to identify the best site.
“I’m going tell you this right here, I’m going to fight like there’s no tomorrow,” Strong said. “Because what I want to be sure is just like what I said in this speech, that we do what’s right for national security. And I’m going to tell you this right here, if they would have chosen number two — it was a close race between us and Nebraska (Offutt Air Force Base) — it might have been hard, but whenever they try to put the No. 5 on the field, I want to know if the big guy (Biden) is getting him a little something out of this. I want to know why they recommended the fifth best.
“Can you imagine if we went in here and awarded the fifth best on contracts with everybody in this room? It’d be a three-ring circus, and I think it’s compromising our country.”
Strong said Kendall and Dickinson have not provided all documents requested before Biden’s announcement by Rogers, the Armed Services Committee chair, concerning the decision-making process on Space Command HQ. Strong acknowledged that was “frustrating” but that the effort is ongoing to acquire those documents.
“But the fight is not over,” Strong said in his speech. “Chairman Rogers and I have a lot of requests for documents, emails, text messages about this process. So far, they have stonewalled each request. I think you can safely assume that there are some things there in those emails that they don’t want us to see. I can promise you that we’re not going away until our committee gives the information that we have asked for.”
The support of Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell, a Democrat, is also a point in favor of the state’s Space Command fight, Strong said. Sewell, generally a backer of Biden, has spoken out in opposition of the president’s decision on Space Command.
“She stood up and said this is absolutely unacceptable,” Strong said.
©2023 Advance Local Media LLC.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.