White House spokesman changes tune after criticism of joking about the Space Force

White House press secretary Jen Psaki answers questions from reporters at the daily White House press briefing on Feb. 2.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said late Tuesday (Feb. 2) that the Biden administration will not stop the U.S. Space Force after Republican leaders asked her to apologize for remarks she made earlier in the day about the Space Force.

For the first Time, the Biden Administration said it would keep the Space Force

“We look forward to the continued operation of the Space Force and invite team members to visit us in the briefing room at any time to share updates on their important work.” Psaki tweeted late Tuesday.

On Dec. 20, 2019, President Trump (R-Texas) signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, authorizing the Defense Department to formally establish a sixth military service, the Space Force, to address threats to space security, the first time in more than six decades that the United States has created a new military service. Trump said at the time that space is the world’s newest field of operations and that U.S. superiority in space is absolutely vital.

But now with President Biden in office, where this military branch goes from here raises concerns.

The statement released Tuesday night by Psaki marks the first time the Biden administration has said that the Space Force, established by former President Trump, will continue to operate. And the elimination of the Space Force would require congressional approval.

Psaki’s announcement on Twitter came after Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the leading Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, asked her to apologize for comments she made earlier Tuesday about the Space Force in response to questions from reporters.

At a White House press conference, Psaki was asked by reporters whether President Biden had made a decision on “keeping the Space Force or maintaining its size.

“Wow, the Space Force. That’s the plane today.” Psaki responded with a joking expression. A reporter tried to respond. Psaki added, “That’s an interesting question. I’d be happy to check with our Space Force point of contact. I’m not sure who that is. I’ll find out and see if they have an update on that.”

Psaki’s comments condemned by Republican lawmakers

In response to Psaki’s comments, Rep. Rogers said in a statement, according to Politico, “Seeing the Biden administration’s press secretary blatantly disparage the entire branch of our military as a joke, I’m sure it would make China (the Chinese Communist Party) find it funny.”

“The Space Force was passed with near-unanimous support in Congress, which is the kind of ‘unity’ President Biden should be working toward.” He added, “Jen Psaki needs to immediately apologize to the members of the TAC for this shameful statement.”

Republican Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Va.), a founding member of the House Space Force Caucus, also criticized the remarks. In a statement to the media, he said, “This is just another example of the Biden administration not taking the China [threat] seriously while belittling the incredible work of Space Force personnel.”

Walz later tweeted, “While the Biden Administration continues to ponder whether the CCP is a threat, China (CCP) is working overtime to become the dominant force in space. We need professionals, the DoD space force, to keep Americans safe.”

In 2020, the Department of Defense released a strategy for how to maintain U.S. dominance in space. The Pentagon considers China (Communist China) and Russia to be its most immediate threats.

On Dec. 18, 2020, then-Vice President Mike Pence announced that the members of the “Space Force” would be called “Guardians.