WASHINGTON — Colorado's two Democratic U.S. senators broke with their party to vote against confirming a Department of Defense nominee late Monday after what they described as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's refusal to discuss the Pentagon's pending decision to move Space Command headquarters from Colorado to Alabama.
In a largely symbolic but attention-getting move, U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper joined 33 Republicans in voting "nay" on the nomination of Brendan Owens to be assistant secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment in the Biden administration's first defense department nomination to make it to the Senate floor in the new Congress.
It's the latest development in a two-year tug-of-war over the permanent location of the command's headquarters following the Trump administration's decision in January 2021 to uproot the base from its temporary site at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Ala.
The Coloradans' protest votes weren't enough to sink the nomination — 60 senators, including 13 Republicans, voted to confirm Owens — but both lawmakers suggested that they're prepared to escalate their bid to bring Austin to the table, potentially by blocking other Pentagon nominees outright.
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