defense

Congressional Audit Reports That Nuclear Bomb Budget Falls Short
Building new weapons will cost 35 percent more, take longer

A U.S. Air Force F-16 similar to this aircraft dropped a mock, inert version of the B61-12 nuclear bomb in the Nevada desert last month, according to news reports. It was the first test of the bomb’s non-nuclear functions. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Building new atomic bombs to replace the oldest such weapons in the U.S. arsenal will cost 35 percent more than the Energy Department has budgeted for the effort, and production will start two years late, according to an internal department estimate cited in a new congressional audit.

Critics have assailed the rising cost of the B61-12 bomb program for several years. The new internal estimate is likely to add to the scrutiny, at a time when modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal is fast becoming one of the biggest federal budget challenges of the next two decades.

Senior WH Official: ‘Military Preparations’ Are Underway for N. Korea
U.S. soon will attempt to influence Kim via ‘economic dimension of national power’

A North Korean ballistic missile during a “Victory Day” parade in 2013. A senior Trump administration official on Wednesday alluded to “military preparations” underway to possibly confront the North. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The Trump administration is preparing a range of options — including plans for military operations — to deal with North Korea and its nuclear arms and missile programs.

National security officials are crafting possible diplomatic, economic and military responses to deal with the Hermit Kingdom, a senior administration official told reporters Wednesday at the White House.

Lawmakers Wary of Russia’s Ability to Plant Cyber Dirt
Moscow’s alleged meddling not just a thing of the past, officials warn

Maine Sen. Angus King said at a hearing last month on Russian cyber operations that Americans should be concerned about being compromised by fake information planted on their computers, and not just the stealing of emails. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a brief and largely overlooked exchange between Sen. Marco Rubio and America’s top spy during a January hearing about Russia’s alleged election meddling, the Florida Republican sketched out what he fears could be the next front in the hidden wars of cyberspace.

Could Russian hackers, Rubio asked then-Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., hypothetically gain access to a U.S. lawmaker’s computer, plant criminal evidence on the device of, say, child pornography or money laundering and then tip off law enforcement?

Analysis: U.S. Military Options in North Korea — From Bad to Worse
Experts say chances of successful preemptive strike not great

Barbed wire fence near the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating South and North Korea on April 14, 2017 in Paju, South Korea. Tensions between the United States and North Korea are high. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

War on the Korean peninsula may or may not be growing more likely. But it sure feels like it is.

Leaders in North Korea and the United States are rattling sabers at each other and conducting military exercises in the region. The entire Senate is set to visit the White House Wednesday for a briefing on the North Korean threat. The U.N. Security Council ambassadors came to the White House Monday and the United States is convening a special U.N. Security Council meeting to talk options on North Korea on Friday.

Top Dems Blast Trump’s First 100 Days, Border Wall Demands
Schumer: Best if president 'stepped out' of government shutdown-avoidance talks

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. — pictured here in March — on Monday had critical words for President Donald Trump. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated at 11:35 a.m. Democratic leaders slammed President Donald Trump on Monday for a “parade of broken promises to working people” during his first 100 days, and said his demands for border wall funding in a must-pass spending bill have stalled talks to avert a government shutdown.

Congressional Democrats are planning a week-long barrage to counter a White House public relations campaign to paint Trump’s first three-plus months as successful. They offered a preview of their messages on a conference call with reporters, with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York dubbing many of Trump’s campaign promises “broken” or “unfulfilled.”

Syria, Trump and Congress’ Ever-Eroding War Powers
Lawmakers lukewarm to a force-authorization measure for U.S. missile strike

President Donald Trump and his national security team receive a briefing on April 6 about an air strike he ordered on a Syrian air base. (White House photo)

President Donald Trump has gone to great lengths to break from the policies and approaches of his predecessor. Yet, when it came to justifying a round of U.S. military missile strikes in Syria, the new commander in chief dusted off a legal rationale crafted by Barack Obama’s administration.

Like the 44th president, Trump contended that the Constitution vests in the office of the presidency enough war powers to carry out some isolated military operations without lawmakers’ approval.

Analysis: Trump’s Bold Talk Replaced by ‘See What Happens’ Stoicism
From health care to North Korea to Russia, president now strikes a wait-and-see tone

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and U.S. President Donald Trump hold a news conference in the East Room of the White House April 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Donald Trump is taking a wait-and-see approach more and more often, following a 2016 campaign that espoused bold promises and exuded confidence.

Take his comments Thursday afternoon about an effort among White House officials and congressional Republicans to try again at repealing and replacing former President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law.

Government Funding or Health Bill? ‘I Want to Get Both,’ Trump Says
President’s whim will test often-fractious House GOP caucus

U.S. President Donald Trump welcome’s Italy Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni after he arrived at the West Wing of the White House, on April 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump turned up the heat on congressional Republicans Thursday, saying he wants them to send him two high-stakes bills next week: one to keep the government open and another to overhaul the health care system.

“I want to get both,” Trump said during a joint press conference with his Italian counterpart.

Opinion: Weighing the Costs of War and Diplomacy
Military action is not always the courageous choice

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly could do more listening and learning, Mary C. Curtis writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

John F. Kelly is getting a lot of criticism these days, and that’s understandable. As leader of the Department of Homeland Security, the retired Marine general now has to be more sensitive to the politics of any given situation.

So when he publicly said critics of his agency’s policies — whether they come from Congress, civil rights groups or the public — should “shut up,” he came off as what he once was, a military man giving orders. When the administration, Kelly’s department in particular, is challenged on its travel bans and inconsistent immigration enforcement, Kelly could do more listening and learning.

Trump Tries to Rally Republican Voters in Georgia House Race
President credits China for turning back coal, oil shipments from North Korea

President Donald Trump criticized Democratic House candidate Jon Ossoff on Tuesday morning, urging GOP voters to get to the polls in Georgia's 6th District special election in big numbers. He painted Ossoff as a tax-hiker and "weak" on crime. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump is urging Republican voters in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District to hit the polls in big numbers Tuesday, warning Democrat Jon Ossoff would “flood our country with illegal immigrants.”

And in an interview that aired early Tuesday morning, Trump flashed his dealmaker in chief approach to diplomacy when he credited China’s attempts to convince North Korea to drop its missile and nuclear arms programs.