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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.

Shutdown Under GOP Control Could Be Historic
Federal funding gaps rare under unified government

Not since President Jimmy Carter’s administration have funding gaps occurred when Congress and the executive branch were unified under one party. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If the Republican majorities in the House and Senate are unable to get legislation to President Donald Trump’s desk to keep the government running beyond an April 28 deadline, it could be a fairly historic political moment.

Not since President Jimmy Carter’s administration have a Congress and an executive branch unified under one party seen government funding gaps occur, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Chaffetz Departure Opens Coveted Oversight Chairmanship
Freedom Caucus members in panel’s leadership poised to make a play for seat

The departure of Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz, left, could give Reps. Trey Gowdy, middle, and Jim Jordan, right, an opportunity to capture the coveted seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As Chairman Jason Chaffetz suggested Wednesday he may not finish his congressional term, top Republicans on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee mostly avoided weighing in on whether they would seek the seat under a GOP White House.

The Utah Republican unabashedly used the position of being the House’s top inquisitor to become nationally prominent in a coveted seat. But he did so under a Democratic administration that the House GOP despised.

Trump Signs Action Expediting Foreign Steel Prices Investigation
National security concerns cited

U.S. President Donald Trump departs the White House on his way to a waiting Marine One helicopter April 18, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump spoke a Snap-On tool factory during the trip. (McNamee/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Thursday, citing national security concerns, signed an executive action expediting a Commerce Department probe examining whether manipulated foreign steel prices could hinder his envisioned military buildup.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters that the investigation was formally launched on Wednesday evening over concerns that the U.S. steel industry would be unable to keep up with demand of the Trump administration’s planned military buildup. Contracts for major Pentagon weapons programs typically are accompanied by stipulations that combat gear must be built using American steel.

Rising Stars 2017: Administration Staffers
A mix of fresh and familiar Washington faces

Four Trump administration staffers are among CQ Roll Call’s 17 Rising Stars of 2017. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Over the course of this week, CQ Roll Call is taking a look at 17 Rising Stars of 2017 — people who will now wield power and influence in a Washington that has been turned upside down by the presidency of Donald Trump.

Some of the names are familiar, others have recently burst on the scene. They include members of Congress, congressional and administration staffers, and advocates.

Wittman Answers Questions at Public Forum, Constituents Hold Mock Town Hall
Republican congressman says he favors smaller-scale meetings over massive town halls

Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., leaves a meeting of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors in Stafford, Va., on April 18, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

STAFFORD, Va. — Rep. Rob Wittman provided an update on congressional affairs to the local governing body here Tuesday evening. It was his fifth constituent meeting of the day.

Meanwhile, just over 30 miles northwest in Nokesville, Virginia, citizens held a mock town hall to discuss the congressman’s voting record.

Take Five: Lou Correa
California Democrat says ‘downtime is nonexistent’ in this Congress

California Rep. Lou Correa says people tell him he came to Congress at the wrong time. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Freshman Rep. Lou Correa, 59, a California Democrat, talks about advice he received from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, sleeping in his office, and making friends in Congress.

Q: What has surprised you about Congress so far?