Afghanistan

In the House, Full Speed Ahead on Defense Spending

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, wants to increase defense spending. It might not be that simple. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry says he is “moving forward” to mark up a fiscal 2018 defense authorization bill the week before the Independence Day recess at about $705 billion.

But, the Texas Republican said, talks are ongoing among senior lawmakers and it is “possible” there could be “some adjustment” to that amount.

Opinion: A Don’t-Blame-Us Congress Ducks on Syria
Be bipartisan and authorize a war

Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., right, and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., conduct a news conference in the Capitol to introduce an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) against ISIS, al Qaeda, and the Taliban on May 25, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It is, of course, not nearly as important as the struggle in GA-6 that is testing what happens when you inject more than $50 million into a single House race and batter the voters into submission with attack ads.

And the topic could not possibly compete with the learned analyses of Megyn Kelly’s NBC interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones — a TV show that was probably the biggest broadcast since King Edward VIII went on British radio to announce his abdication to marry “the woman I love.”

Former Security Official Launches Bid Against MacArthur
Andy Kim pointed to MacArthur's work on the GOP health care bill

In announcing his campaign against Republic Rep. Tom MacArthur, Andy Kim said, “Nobody voted to send a representative to Washington to gut health care.” (Andy Kim for Congress)

A former White House national security official announced Monday that he is challenging GOP Rep. Tom MacArthur, who was instrumental in negotiating a key amendment to the Republican health care bill.

Democrat Andy Kim is a native of New Jersey’s 3rd District and served as the National Security Council’s director for Iraq during President Barack Obama’s administration. In Afghanistan Kim worked as a diplomat and strategic adviser to Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. John Allen in Afghanistan.

House Gets to Work on Defense Authorization Bill
GOP to push for more dollars for the Pentagon

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, will begin shepherding the defense authorization bill through that chamber this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House Armed Services subcommittees will all meet this week to approve their slices of the annual Pentagon policy bill, the first formal step in the months-long negotiations to move the massive measure through Congress and to the president’s desk. The Senate Armed Services panels will follow suit soon. 

Subcommittees of the House Armed Services Committee plan to mark up their portions of the fiscal 2018 defense authorization measure June 21 and 22. Then, on June 28, the full committee will hold its daylong markup. Senate Armed Services plans to hold its mostly closed markups of the bill the last week of June.

Graham ‘All In’ on Trump’s New Afghanistan Strategy
Graham and McCain among lawmakers briefed on way forward on Wednesday

Sens. John McCain, left, and Lindsey Graham have been briefed on the new plan for Afghanistan.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Lindsey Graham is elated about President Donald Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy.  

Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster briefed Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain and Graham Wednesday on the new plan for the fight in Afghanistan.

Schumer Passes on Chance to Star With Kate Mara
Capitol Hill gets cameo in new film ‘Megan Leavey’

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, left, is portrayed by actor Andrew Masset in the new film “Megan Leavey.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo, Ben Rose/Getty Images for Corday Productions)

The old saying that the most dangerous place in Washington is between Sen. Charles E. Schumer and a camera? New evidence suggests otherwise.

“I didn’t want to ruin the film,” the New York Democrat said about turning down an offer to play himself in the new movie “Megan Leavey.”

Trump’s ‘Total Authorization’ to Military Gives Some ‘Deep Concerns’
But GOP lawmakers say president remains involved in strategic decisions

President Donald Trump’s deference to military commanders to make “tactical decisions” has been partly attributed to his trust in Defense Secretary James Mattis. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump says he has given U.S. military commanders “total authorization” to make complex combat decisions, a move that alarms some senior Democratic members and national security experts.

The commander in chief revealed a major policy shift from the Obama administration, which was heavily involved in strategic and tactical decisions, on a late Thursday afternoon in mid-April. The news dominated the cable airwaves for a few hours, then was quickly overshadowed by self-inflicted wounds and eventually, an ever-escalating series of bombshells related to possible ties between Moscow and Trump’s campaign and transition teams.

Take Five: Jim Banks
Indiana Republican is the most recently deployed member of Congress

Indiana Rep. Jim Banks’ wife, Amanda, replaced him briefly in the Indiana state Senate when he was deployed to Afghanistan. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Freshman Rep. Jim Banks, 37, an Indiana Republican, talks about his wife taking over for him in the state Senate, his childhood, and making time for his three daughters.

Q: What has surprised you about being in Congress so far?

Senators Make Another Bid to Authorize War Against ISIS
Flake and Kaine have tried before

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake is introducing another proposal for authorizing the use of military force against ISIS. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“When I voted in 2001 to authorize military force against the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks, I had no idea I would be authorizing armed conflict for more than fifteen years, and counting.”

That’s what Sen. Jeff Flake said Thursday. The Arizona Republican was announcing yet another effort with Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, to get Congress to go on record to authorize the use of military force against the Islamic State and other terror groups.