The White House may be walking back a decision to relocate the US Space Command headquarters to Alabama.
The reversal comes amid controversy over Alabama's highly restrictive abortion ban, NBC News reported.
Alabama lawmakers have bristled at the report, calling it a "slight against those serving in uniform."
The administration of President Joe Biden may be trying to punish Alabama for its restrictive abortion ban by changing course on the relocation of the headquarters of a major military branch, US officials told NBC News.
"This is all about abortion politics," one official told NBC.
The US Air Force announced in January 2021 that Space Command — now located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado — would be relocated to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. Space Command is a department of the Air Force that protects the United States and its allies "in, from, and to space."
Officials within the Biden administration have quietly signaled to the US Department of Defense that they are backpedaling the decision to move the headquarters over concerns about operational disruptions tied to relocating, NBC reported, citing conversations with one US defense official and two other US officials.
Those concerns came months after Alabama's abortion law went into effect, raising speculation among those officials over the Biden administration's true motives.
"The belief is they are delaying any move because of the abortion issue," another US official told NBC, referring to the Biden administration.
A White House official told Insider that laws regarding reproductive health were not considered in the decision-making process, questioning the accuracy of NBC's reporting. A spokesperson for the Air Force said they could not confirm the information in NBC's report.
"A decision has not yet been made," the spokesperson told Insider.
The reporting drew strong responses from Alabama lawmakers. Republican Rep. Dale Strong said Alabama was chosen as the new headquarters location after the "Air Force looked at what was in the best interest of national security."
"Any deviation from that is a slight against those serving in uniform. I've seen all the reviews and reports on the basing process — but don't remember access to late-term abortions being one of the 21 criteria used to evaluate the sites," Strong told WHNT-TV, a local CBS affiliate in Huntsville.
After his departure from office, former President Donald Trump claimed full credit for the decision to relocate the Space Command, prompting ire from some Colorado politicians and a review by the Government Accountability Office. That review found that the Air Force's decision and methodology for choosing Huntsville as a new location had "significant shortfalls in its transparency and credibility."
After the US Supreme Court effectively overturned Roe v. Wade, abortions became entirely illegal in Alabama at any stage of pregnancy, except in cases where the pregnant patient's safety is at risk (but notably not in cases of rape or incest).
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