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Published: Thursday, April 11, 2019 @ 8:58 PM
— It may be a prized goal of President Donald Trump, but the idea of Congress spending extra money to set up a new arm of the Air Force to deal with military operations in space continues to be as inviting to lawmakers as choosing vacuum packed astronaut ice cream as a daily dessert.
"I'm having a real hard time understanding why we need this other agency," said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). "It just doesn't make any sense to me at all, I'm sorry."
"I guess we need some convincing that there is a need for a sixth branch in our armed services," said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), as a Senate hearing on the idea turned into a parade of bipartisan skepticism.
"To create a new bureaucracy that's going to cost us half a billion dollars a year, I've got to be convinced there's some incremental value there," said Sen. Angus King (I-ME).
"All I see is how a new Space Force will create one more organization to ask Congress for money," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
@ActingSecDef is running into a lot of skepticism among SASC members questioning the need to create a Space Force as a separate military service.— Robert Burns (@robertburnsAP) April 11, 2019
"I'm having a hard time understanding why we need this other agency," says @Sen_JoeManchin on the Space Force proposal. "It just doesn't make any sense to me at all, I'm sorry."— Harry Cramer (@HarrisonCramer) April 11, 2019
At a Thursday hearing with Senators, a panel of top military leaders tried their best to convince lawmakers that now is the time to start setting up such a plan, which has been repeatedly championed by President Trump.
"We're going to have a Space Force some day," said Air Force Gen. John Hyten, the head of the U.S. Strategic Command. "I think what the committee has to decide when that is going to happen."
It's an idea which certainly has received a lot more attention because of President Trump's support for a Space Force.
"That's the next step, and we have to be prepared," President Trump said about space in a February event in the Oval Office. "Our adversaries and, whether we get along with them or not, they're up in space."
Lots of skeptical questions, from Republicans and Democrats both, about establishing a Space Force at this SASC hearing with Shanahan, Wilson, Hyten, and Dunford. Their overarching concern: Why do we need a separate branch?— Mike Warren (@MichaelRWarren) April 11, 2019
But the President's moves to create a Space Command, to sign a Space Force Directive, plug it repeatedly at political rallies, and talk about it with top defense officials has not changed the political dynamic on it for lawmakers in the House and Senate.
"Everybody is excited," Mr. Trump said of the Space Force in October of 2018 during a visit to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
Everybody it seems, except many members of Congress - as all systems are not 'go' at this point.
"You can tell that we're all wrestling with it, we're kind of struggling with it," said Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) told military leaders.