As Vice President Mike Pence told a Pentagon audience on Thursday that a new branch of the military known as the “Space Force” should be set up by 2020, the Congress has yet to approve the creation of such a plan, shrugging off repeated calls by President Donald Trump for a new part of the armed forces.
“Establishing a Space Force is an idea whose time has come,” the Vice President said in a speech.
“What was once peaceful and uncontested, is now crowded and adversarial,” the Vice President added, making the case for a sixth branch of the military to deal solely with threats in space.
“We must have American dominance in space,” Pence declared.
But on Monday, when President Donald Trump signs a major defense policy bill into law, during a trip to Fort Drum in New York, that piece of legislation will not contain any language to create a space force, as lawmakers remain cool to the idea.
The plan does require a provision for the Defense Secretary to develop a ‘warfighting policy’ in space by March of 2019, noting that U.S. “national security satellites face growing
threats from potential adversary attacks, such as anti-satellite weapons or jamming.”
The initial estimate out of the White House is that setting up a new “Space Force” would cost $8 billion over five years, as the Vice President compared it to previous military expansion in the history of the United States.
“Just as in the past when we established an Air Force, the idea of establishing a Space Force is an idea whose time has come,” the Vice President added.
“Before you spending more money unnecessarily on a military presence in space, why not work on solving problems here on Earth,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), as Democrats denounced the idea.
“What a joke,” said Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA).
“Stop wasting money on useless walls and intergalactic armies,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).
“Maybe we should rename Medicaid Expansion “Space Force” and we could save lives,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). “Space Force is a silly but dangerous idea.”
What will happen now is a report from the Pentagon, in a bid to set out a multi-year process to create the Space Force – but Congressional approval will be needed – and that’s still a long shot on Capitol Hill.