- The Washington Times
Monday, June 10, 2019

The powerful head of the House Armed Services Committee said Monday that he supports the Pentagon’s efforts to set up President Trump’s new Space Force, but said he does not trust the Air Force to handle the job alone.

“I think the Air Force has not done a very good job at managing space,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, Washington state Democrat, told reporters at a breakfast Monday. “They have mucked it up in a variety of different ways.”

The Trump White House reinstituted U.S. Space Command earlier this year, putting it on par with organizations like U.S. Central Command and U.S. Cyber Command. Air Force Gen. John Raymond has been tapped by the White House to lead the new command.

The move is part of Mr. Trump’s push to create a Space Force as first new independent military branch in decades.

Supporters of the new Space Force military branch argue Russian and Chinese efforts to militarize space are already chipping away at America’s dominance. Opponents of the measure argue the move would unnecessarily replicate ongoing operations by Air Force.

Mr. Smith challenged the idea that the president had originated the idea of a separate force for fighting in outer space.

“We were talking about this long before the president even knew” what a Space Force option was, Mr. Smith contended. “This is not President Trump’s idea.”

Mr. Smith’s comments came the same day the committee, now with a Democratic chairman and majority, released its version of the Pentagon’s budget proposal for FY2020, starting Oct. 1.

The House version sets aside $724 billion for Pentagon coffers in the coming fiscal year, with a baseline budget of $655.9 billion for the Defense Department, along with an additional $69 billion to finance ongoing combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

The House proposal is $6 billion more than the White House’s total $718 billion budget request for defense and national security in the coming fiscal year, sent to Capitol Hill in February.

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