White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday was forced to clarify President Biden’s stance on maintaining the nation’s Space Force, established by his predecessor, after blowing off a similar question a day earlier.
“I did send a tweet last night, you may not all be on Twitter, maybe they’re not on Twitter,” she said Wednesday at a White House press briefing.
Psaki added, “They absolutely have the full support of the Biden administration. And we are not revisiting the decision to establish the Space Force.”
Republicans in Congress said Tuesday they were outraged by Psaki likening the fate of Space Force to a decision on the colors that will be used to paint Air Force One.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) called on Psaki to “immediately apologize to the men and women of the Space Force for this disgraceful comment.” Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) said “this is just another example of the Biden administration not taking China seriously while demeaning the incredible work of Space Force personnel.”
Amid the firestorm Tuesday night, Psaki tweeted, “We look forward to the continuing work of Space Force and invite the members of the team to come visit us in the briefing room anytime to share an update on their important work.”
At the Wednesday briefing, Psaki said the new service was the result of a focus on space that predates Trump.
“The desire for the Department of Defense to focus greater attention and resources on the growing security challenges in space has long been a bipartisan issue and [was] formed by numerous independent commissions and studies conducted across multiple administrations and thousands of men and women proudly serve in the Space Force,” she said.
“As you know, it was established by Congress and any other steps would actually have to be taken by Congress, not by the administration.”
But Psaki also stoked further extraterrestrial angst among Republicans by saying she wasn’t sure if Biden would continue Trump’s Artemis program that aims to land astronauts, including the first woman, on the moon by 2024.
“I’m personally interested in space. I think it’s a fascinating area of study. But I have not spoken with our team about this particular program. So let me see if we can get you a more informed overview of that,” she said.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said he was appalled.
“I am shocked the Biden Administration refused to confirm the President’s support for the Artemis program,” Rubio said in a statement.
“America won the 20th century because of our ability to innovate and prioritize. Pulling back from the Artemis program will set our nation back in the battle to win the 21st century. It will also destroy good American jobs and undermine our national security. I urge President Biden to give his unequivocal support for the Artemis program and America’s thriving commercial space program.”