When questioned about the future of the U.S. Space Force in the Biden administration, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday appeared to downplay the new branch’s importance, suggesting a question about the Space Force was as insignificant as questions about Air Force One’s paint scheme.
Asked by Bloomberg News reporter Josh Wingrove whether Biden had decided to keep the Space Force, Psaki replied, “Wow, Space Force. It’s the plane of today.” As Wingrove appeared to defend the question, Psaki added “It is an interesting question. I’m happy to check with our Space Force point of contact. I’m not sure who that is.”
During her first week in the White House, Psaki faced a series of questions about Biden’s preference for the Air Force One color-scheme. In one exchange, Psaki laughingly referred to the issue as “the plane” and said, “I can confirm for you here: the president has not spent a moment thinking about the color scheme of Air Force One.”
Psaki’s apparent comparison between the Space Force question and a question about the presidential plane drew backlash. Politico reported Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee said, “It’s concerning to see the Biden administration’s press secretary blatantly diminish an entire branch of our military as the punchline of a joke, which I’m sure China would find funny.”
“The Space Force was passed with near unanimous support in Congress, the same type of ‘unity’ President Biden is supposedly working towards,” Rogers continued. “Jen Psaki needs to immediately apologize to the men and women of the Space Force for this disgraceful comment.”
On Tuesday night, Psaki tweeted, “We look forward to the continuing work of Space Force and invite the members of the team to come visit us in the briefing room anytime to share an update on their important work.”
Defense One Executive Editor Kevin Baron tweeted, “‘It’s the plane of today,’ is Psaki’s way of snarking at WH press questions about things they. think are silly, like Air Force 1’s paint scheme, — so that’s where Space Force ranks with them, apparently.”
On Wednesday, Psaki returned to the original question about the future of the Space Force.
“They [Space Force] absolutely have the full support of the Biden administration and we are not revisiting the decision to establish the Space Force,” Psaki said Wednesday. “The desire for the Department of Defense to focus greater attention and resources on the growing security challenges in space has long been a bipartisan issue, and formed by numerous independent commissions and studies conducted by multiple administrations, and thousands of men and women proudly serve in the Space Force. As you know, it was established by Congress and any other steps would actually have to be taken by Congress, not by the administration.”
Neither Psaki’s Tuesday tweet or Wednesday remarks included an apology for her initial response to the Space Force question.
While the new U.S. military branch has received bipartisan support, its launch was accompanied by a Netflix workplace comedy series starring Steve Carell. Twitter users have also joked about similarities between Space Force’s logo and the logos seen on Star Trek uniforms.