Afghanistan

Bipartisan Group Attempts to Clear Marines’ Names
Military wrongly accused company for killing two dozen bystanders in 2007

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., said, “These brave men deserve complete, public exoneration.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan group of lawmakers are sponsoring legislation to clear the names of a company of Marines cleared of killing bystanders in a 2007 firefight in Afghanistan.

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., introduced legislation that would require the U.S. Marine Corps’ top general to “issue a public document” to certify that members of Marine Corps Special Company Foxtrot were not at fault and “deserve to have their names cleared,” Military Times reported.

Wisconsin’s Sean Duffy Will Forgo Senate Bid
Other potential candidates had been waiting on congressman’s decision

Rep. Sean Duffy announced he’s passing on a challenge to Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Update 9:35 a.m. Feb. 16 with Duffy announcement

Wisconsin Rep. Sean P. Duffy announced Thursday he will pass on a run for Senate in 2018.

Jason Kander May Have Made a Big Mistake
Missouri Democrat hits national stage with potential long-term consequences

Jason Kander’s recent association with national Democratic super PAC could complicate his chances in future elections in Missouri, Gonzales writes. (Courtesy Jason Kander Facebook page)

Missouri Democrat Jason Kander came close to getting elected to the Senate after he burst onto the scene last year with a memorable campaign ad and a strong challenge to GOP incumbent Roy Blunt. Now Kander is widely viewed as a rising star in the Democratic Party, but his postelection choices may complicate future bids for higher office.

Last year, Kander gained national attention for his ad, “Background Checks,” in which he reassembled a rifle blindfolded. It was one of the most memorable ads of the cycle, if not recent campaign history.

Harward, Petraeus and Kellogg Emerge as Flynn Replacements
All three have distinguished military careers but each has his own baggage

Former CIA Director David Petraeus is among the potential replacements for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Three former military officers are on the shortlist to replace former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn after his resignation, according to news reports.

Lt. Gen. Keith KelloggBackground: Kellogg is currently the interim national security adviser. The retired three-star general served as chief of staff of the National Security Council under Flynn. 

A New DNC Chair: This Time It Really Counts
Democrats have much to overcome

The choice of a permanent successor to Debbie Wasserman Schultz as Democratic National Committee chairman has taken on larger-than-usual significance, Walter Shapiro writes. (Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

BALTIMORE — Watching the Democratic Party’s regional forum here last week, my mind kept flashing back to that nearly century-old Will Rogers crack, “I am not a member of any organized party — I am a Democrat.”

In normal times, the selection of a Democratic chair is one of those topics that primarily interest political reporters in the postelection doldrums and consultants hoping for future contracts. But with the Democrats in their worst shape organizationally since the 1920s, the choice of a permanent successor to Debbie Wasserman Schultz takes on larger-than-usual significance.

Trump Blasts John McCain for Emboldening America’s Enemies
Arizona Republican had criticized raid in Yemen

Sen. John McCain faced criticism from President Donald Trump on Thursday morning. (Daniel A. Anderson/CQ Roll Call file photo.)

President Donald Trump accused Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain of helping America’s enemies by criticizing an ill-fated U.S. military raid in Yemen.

The Arizona Republican, “should not be talking about the success or failure of a mission to the media,” Trump said in an early morning tweet. “Only emboldens the enemy!”

Vets Protest Travel Ban

The Associated Press reports that "U.S. combat veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan say they are outraged at the temporary ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and the suspension of the U.S. refugee program that has blocked visas for interpreters who risked their lives to help American troops on the battlefield."

"Thousands of veterans have signed petitions. One soldier says he has bought a plane ticket for his Afghan translator in case that country is added to the list of banned nations."

Mick Mulvaney's Budget Stance on Defense Could Get Awkward
Standoff with McCain hints at deep conflict over spending

Mulvaney previous positions on spending cuts runs afoul of Republicans who want to boost the Pentagon budget. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

If Republicans who favor more Pentagon spending help confirm President Donald Trump's nominee for budget director, they will be holding their noses when they do it.

Among GOP lawmakers who want to increase funding for defense, reservations run deep about Rep. Mick Mulvaney to be director of the Office of Management and Budget.

House Freshmen to Watch
115th Congress provides a platform for ambitious new members

Kihuen, left, comes to Congress with a record of success in Nevada, and the blessing of former Sen. Harry Reid. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Not all freshmen are created equal.

While there is always a learning curve for new members of the House, some of the newly elected come to the institution with an enhanced profile. This could be because they are former statewide officeholders, or perhaps scored a big one for the team by knocking off a longtime incumbent. Maybe they are natural leaders or their ambitions are such that they are already looking at other federal offices. 

VA Health Chief Shulkin Picked by Trump for VA Secretary

President-elect Donald Trump announced Wednesday his pick for Veterans Affairs secretary, David J. Shulkin. (Courtesy Veterans Health/Flickr)

President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday he will tap David J. Shulkin, who is now head of the Veterans Health Administration, to be secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The president-elect said “at least” 100 interviews were conducted for the top job to lead the troubled agency that has struggled to deliver care to veterans at a time of increased demand and budgetary pressure.