Defense & Cyberspace

Will 2020 Democrats condemn the Armenian genocide?
Only four lawmakers running for president have signed on to remembrance resolutions

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is one of four Democratic presidential candidates who have co-sponsored resolutions recognizing the Armenian genocide. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Whether the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 amounted to a genocide is still a fraught political question for U.S. presidential candidates more than a century later.

The question for now is how many of the growing field of candidates might weigh in on Wednesday for the annual commemoration. April 24, 1915 is generally considered to mark the start of actions that led to the Armenian genocide.

Bernie Sanders makes plea for Senate to override Donald Trump’s Yemen veto
Senate will likely need to take procedural votes to dispense with joint resolution that would pull U.S. out of war in Yemen

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is asking colleagues to support overriding the Yemen resolution veto. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s veto of a joint resolution to put an end to U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen is going to kick the matter back to senators when they return to the Capitol next week.

With recess continuing this week, senators are in their home states, on congressional delegations abroad and on the presidential campaign trail. But Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders , one of the many Democratic presidential candidates, took a moment Monday to circulate a dear colleague letter seeking support for overriding the Trump veto.

Sarah Sanders lashes out at Democrats, April Ryan over calls for her firing
Embattled Trump spokeswoman calls Dems' reaction to Mueller report ‘sad,’ wants to ‘move on’

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday criticized author and journalist April Ryan, seen here at a book-launch event in September in New York, for calling for her ouster. The Mueller report detailed times in which Sanders lied to reporters, prompting Ryan's call. (Robin Marchant/Getty Images file photo)

Newly embattled White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday lashed out at congressional Democrats and reporter April Ryan as President Donald Trump and his team began their first week following release of Robert S. Mueller III’s report.

Democratic lawmakers wasted little time Thursday calling for her ouster following the special counsel’s report that detailed several instances in which Sanders misled reporters, especially about Trump’s decision-making before he fired then-FBI Director James Comey. Ryan, an American Urban Radio Networks reporter who provides analysis for CNN, followed that night by calling for the same during an appearance on the network’s “Outfront” program.

Lawmakers spar big-time on behalf of rocket companies
Billions of dollars in business, and the future of national security, are at stake in fight over developing a new generation of rockets

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on February 6, 2018 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket is the most powerful rocket in the world and is carrying a Tesla Roadster into orbit. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

More than two-dozen House members have thrown the latest punch in a bare-knuckled fight that pits competing U.S. rocket manufacturers and their allies on Capitol Hill against one another.

A bipartisan group of 28 House members urged Air Force Secretary Heather A. Wilson in an April 12 letter not to alter the service’s blueprint for developing a new generation of rockets to lift U.S. military and spy satellites into orbit. But plenty of other lawmakers have pushed for several changes.

Progressive power play: Pentagon-level spending for nondefense programs
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 107

Rep. Mark Pocan, D- Wis., who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, wants to open the conversation on boosting nondefense spending.(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Hemp concerns and trade jitters top agriculture appropriations hearing
The Agriculture Department’s request includes cuts to research, rural housing and international humanitarian food programs

Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue takes his seat to testify during the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate appropriators had trade woes and the promise of industrial hemp on their minds Thursday as they sought assurances from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue of better times for farmers in their states.

Perdue testified before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on the president’s $15.7 billion request for discretionary funding for the Agriculture Department. The request is more than $4.2 billion lower than the enacted level for fiscal 2019 and includes cuts to research, rural housing, international humanitarian food programs and other areas popular with lawmakers.

Senators remain skeptical of Space Force
Lawmakers agreed space defense is important, but many logistical questions remain

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford (center) is seen while protesters hold up signs before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on April 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. The acting defense secretary is pitching the idea of creating a Space Force as a separate branch of the military to Congress. (Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)

Top Pentagon officials on Thursday deployed old arguments to argue for a new military service within the Department of the Air Force focused specifically on space.

The United States risks losing its competitive edge in space to Russia and China unless the Pentagon stands up Space Force to defend extraterrestrial military and commercial interests, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Republican senators to press disaster aid case to Trump

UNITED STATES - MARCH 5: Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., talks with reporters before the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby will meet with President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday afternoon to discuss a path forward on disaster aid, the Alabama Republican told reporters.

GOP Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Joni Ernst of Iowa will also attend the meeting, Shelby said.

Trump piggybacks on Barr comments on 2016 ‘spying’
President says he might be open to a small deal with North Korea to keep talks alive

President Trump in the Oval Office Thursday before he took questions from reporters as First Lady Melania Trump looks on. (John T. Bennett/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday alleged there was “unprecedented” and “illegal” spying into his 2016 campaign, and also signaled he could be open to a smaller deal with North Korea to keep talks alive.

Trump was asked if he agrees with comments made — and then clarified —during Senate testimony Wednesday by Attorney General William P. Barr said “spying did occur” before closing the session with this clarification: “I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred. I am saying I am concerned about it and looking into it — that’s all.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz taunts Rep. Adam Schiff with PENCIL Act
GOP congressman’s bill acronym repeats Trump’s insult of Intelligence Committee chairman

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., named a new bill targeting Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff the PENCIL Act after President Donald Trump called the Democrat “pencil neck.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Matt Gaetz wants to codify one of President Donald Trump’s taunts into federal law.

The Florida Republican filed a bill Wednesday that would boot Rep. Adam Schiff from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Punishment for border wall money transfer could pinch Pentagon
Lawmakers want to remind the White House who holds the power of the purse

When domestic events strain Defense Department accounts, the Pentagon is used to moving money around. But now that the president is testing that time-honored flexibility, Congress is considering a change. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s controversial border wall could propel lawmakers to end a time-honored “gentleman’s agreement” that has allowed the Pentagon to shift billions of dollars around in its budget — a move that could hamstring the military’s ability to respond quickly to unforeseen events.

House Democrats are poised to retaliate against Trump’s decision to repurpose Defense Department funds to help pay for the wall along the southern border, and the Pentagon’s budget flexibility seems to be the target.

Trump tries to revive North Korea talks in meeting with South Korea’s Moon
Experts see Moon urging U.S. leader to pursue ‘small deal’ with Kim Jong Un

President Donald Trump will meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House on Thursday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump will try to revive his push to strip North Korea of its nuclear weapons when he hosts South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday. The visit comes as lawmakers worry about Kim Jong Un’s arsenal, with experts encouraging talks in hopes of even a “small deal.”

Trump’s second nuclear disarmament summit was cut short in late February after he and Kim reached an impasse over several issues, including the latter’s demand for some sanctions to be lifted before he started dismantling his atomic arms and long-range missile programs. Trump has signaled he was at least partially distracted during the meetings in Vietnam by his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s testimony before a House panel at the same time.

Did you say ‘spying?’ Barr walks back testimony after making a stir
Barr clears up his Senate testimony after cable news and social media buzz over one of his word choices

Attorney General William Barr testifies before a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Tuesday. Lee J. Lofthus, assistant attorney general for administration, appears at left. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney General William Barr sought to “please add one point of clarification” at the end of his testimony Wednesday before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee — and the veteran law enforcement official needed it.

Cable news and social media were abuzz with one of Barr’s earlier word choices, when he told senators that he would look into the work of U.S. intelligence agencies directed at the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election because “spying did occur.”

Rep. Jackie Speier urges Kim Kardashian to tweet at Trump about Armenian genocide
Most U.S. presidents have stopped short of acknowledging the systematic killing of Armenians

Kim Kardashian, in black, enters the White House grounds in May 2018 to meet with members of the Trump administration. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

Rep. Jackie Speier said the push for President Donald Trump to condemn the Armenian genocide has a “secret weapon” — his fellow television reality star Kim Kardashian.

“I think within our diaspora we have a secret weapon to get him to recognize the Armenian genocide,” Speier said Tuesday. “I think we all need to tweet to Kim Kardashian and ask her,” prompting some laughter from the crowd.

House puts off vote on spending caps deal; adopts ‘deeming’ resolution

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., announced the spending caps bill would be punted until at least after the two-week recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House set an overall spending cap of nearly $1.3 trillion for appropriators in that chamber to write their fiscal 2020 bills, adopting a “deeming resolution” on Tuesday as part of the rule governing floor debate on separate spending caps legislation — although that legislation hit a snag on Tuesday. 

The tally was 219-201, with no Republicans voting for the rule and seven Democrats voting ‘no.’