Colorado Springs U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn has been named as the ranking member of the subcommittee overseeing space defense, missile defense and nuclear weapons, gaining key leverage over space programs at a time when Colorado is fighting to hold onto Space Command headquarters.
Rep. Mike Rogers, the lead Republican on the Armed Services Committee, said he appointed his GOP colleague because of his passion on defense issues and "they recognized my dedication to these issues partly because so much of this activity takes place in Colorado," said Lamborn.
"Over the past few years as the Ranking Member of the Readiness Subcommittee, it was my honor to consistently work to provide service members and their families with the training, resources and equipment they needed," Lamborn told The Gazette on Monday. "I am pleased to continue my service as the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces."
It’s a years-long dream of Lamborn’s to become the top Republican on the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, which makes sure the U.S. is properly prepared for any missile or nuclear attacks.
"I set my sights on this 14 years ago when I got on the Armed Services Committee," said Lamborn, who noted that no other Coloradan has ever been ranking member or chairman of the subcommittee.
The appointment could help cement Colorado’s role in the future of space since the subcommittee sets priorities for national security programs like Space Command and Space Force, both of which are currently based in Colorado Springs. The subcommittee was the body that initially set up Space Force.
"So much of the aerospace work we do in Colorado is national security-related," Lamborn said.
Military space makes up the bulk of defense contracting across Colorado, which has the second biggest space economy in the country, behind California. Colorado has the biggest concentration of national security space jobs and companies in the U.S.
Rocket makers and satellite builders, along with companies offering direct support to the Space Force bases at Schriever and Buckley, account for the vast majority of Colorado’s $15 billion aerospace economy.
"Representative Lamborn has been a strong leader on the Readiness subcommittee," said Rogers. "I know he will continue his hard work in support of our national security needs in his new role as the Ranking Member of the subcommittee on Strategic Forces."
Lamborn sees the protection of the U.S. assets in space as one of the country’s highest defense priorities.
"It is no secret that China is undergoing a rapid, unprecedented nuclear buildup including testing new hypersonic missiles," Lamborn said. "Russia's nuclear program has undergone significant modernization of all three legs of its triad, including the development of anti-satellite weapons that significantly threaten the space domain. It is vital that our military has the resources and capabilities necessary to keep our country safe, particularly in light of these new and growing threats."
Lamborn has been Colorado’s most vocal opponent to a Trump administration decision to move Space Command headquarters from Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Ala., in five years.
The appointment to the strategic forces subcommittee "certainly doesn’t hurt" his efforts to push to keep Space Command in Colorado, Lamborn said. "It gives me a platform to make this case."
The House Armed Services Committee last year passed, with bipartisan agreement, Lamborn's amendment to the annual defense bill to prevent the move of the command to Huntsville and work leading up to it until after the Government Accountability Office and the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General complete their reviews of the decision.
But congressional negotiators dropped the provision when they passed the defense bill.
Lamborn was the congressman who originally called for the GAO probe, the findings of which are expected to be released in March.
Lamborn has cited political pressure exerted on Air Force leaders to locate the command in Huntsville and irregularities in how the Pentagon judged the contest.
If the GAO finds wrongdoing, it could increase pressure on lawmakers and President Joe Biden to reverse the decision to move the command to Alabama.
Lamborn was first elected to represent Colorado’s 5th Congressional District in 2006.