Afghanistan

After bitter fight, defense budget will stay high
The hard-fought outcome is likely to be a bipartisan accord keeping defense spending at historically high levels

A Manned Ground Vehicle (MGV) chassis, an Abrams A1 tank, and a pair of Stryker Leader Followers during a demonstration of future combat systems (Scott Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump’s defense budget request is sparking partisan discord that will last for months, but the hard-fought outcome is likely to be a bipartisan accord to keep defense spending at its historically high level.

The conflict is real. A House controlled by Democrats will not easily swallow Trump’s proposal to slash spending on nondefense programs by 9 percent at the same time as he wants a nearly 5 percent increase in defense spending. Trump’s $750 billion request for the Pentagon and other defense accounts marks one of the biggest peacetime defense budgets since World War II, even adjusting for inflation.

U.S. commander warns of risks from Trump’s troop withdrawal
Votel’s testimony clashes with recent remarks by the president, who has celebrated the complete defeat of the Islamic State

Army Gen. Joseph Votel says the Islamic State remains a dangerous threat and that the president’s plan to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan could be risky. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The U.S. commander in the Middle East warned lawmakers Thursday about the risks of President Donald Trump’s plans to withdraw American forces from Syria and Afghanistan.

The Islamic State terrorist group is down to less than one square mile of territory in Iraq and Syria, but the group has made a “calculated decision” to lay low and remains a dangerous threat, Army Gen. Joseph Votel told the House Armed Services Committee.

Tim Kaine and the war on zombie wars
Virginia Democrat says he is slowly gaining support for a more robust congressional role in military adventures

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., is continuing his fight against “zombie” wars. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Little by little, Sen. Tim Kaine thinks fellow members of Congress are coming around to his point of view that the legislative branch should be more assertive when it comes to war powers.

The Democrat from Virginia has been among the most persistent advocates for the Senate debating and voting on authorizations for using military force when needed, and pulling them back when it’s past due. His latest push is against what he calls “zombie authorizations.”

Why this North Carolina Democrat thinks he can succeed Walter Jones
Conservative 3rd District backed Trump by 24 points in 2016

Retired Marine Col. Richard Bew is running for North Carolina’s 3rd District as a Democrat. (Courtesy Richard Bew’s campaign)

No Democrat stepped up to challenge Rep. Walter B. Jones last fall. The Republican congressman ran unopposed for a 13th term in North Carolina’s 3rd District.

But Jones’ death last month has triggered a September special election, and some Democrats are giving this military-heavy district another look. 

Some troops will stay in Syria, White House official confirms
‘The exact number has not been determined yet,’ the senior White House official said.

President Donald Trump delivered the State of the Union address, with Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, at the Capitol in Washington, DC on Feb. 5, 2019. (Doug Mills/The New York Times POOL PHOTO)

A senior White House official confirmed the Trump administration plans to keep U.S. troops in Syria even after President Donald Trump announced plans of a complete American withdrawal.

“Yes, some troops will stay in Syria,” the senior official told Roll Call Friday morning. The confirmation comes after Senate Armed Services member Lindsey Graham, a Trump confidant, announced the president decided to leave 200 U.S. forces in the war-torn country to combat the Islamic State.

A reporter’s homage to government auditors — unsung heroes of transparency
America needs information that presents an objective version of reality

Michael Horowitz, inspector general of the Justice Department, testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Building in 2017. Government institutions such as inspectors general and the Government Accountability Office toil in obscurity but their work is critical for America, John Donnelly writes.  (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Whistle-blowers and internal documents are the lifeblood of journalism.

Without such sources, the full story of what’s happening in our country can’t come out.

Former top military advisers urge Congress to pass gun background checks bill
Ex-leaders are part of veterans coalition organized by Giffords’ group

Retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal is among the former military advisers and leaders urging congressional leaders to pass a universal backgrounds check bill. (John Medina/Getty Images file photo)

More than a dozen retired top military commanders, leaders and advisers, whose careers spanned both Republican and Democratic administrations, are throwing their weight behind a bill in the House and Senate that would require universal background checks for all U.S. gun sales.

In a letter Thursday, 13 former top military advisers and combat leaders urged congressional leaders in both parties to pass the bill, known in the House as HR 8, which targets private gun sales that don’t require background checks under current federal law.

‘The dumbest f---ing idea I’ve ever heard’ and other highlights of the Senate’s European adventure
Senators have been traveling the globe this week, with many attending conferences in Europe

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., reportedly told the acting Defense secretary that pulling all troops from Syria by April 30 was “the dumbest f---ing idea I’ve heard .” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Over President’s Day weekend, it might have been easier to get a quorum of the U.S. Senate together in Europe than in Washington.

You lost a House race in 2018? Now run for Senate in 2020
Some losing House candidates may try to ‘fail up’ to the Senate

National Democrats are encouraging Kentucky’s Amy McGrath, who narrowly lost a race for the 6th District last fall, to consider challenging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2020. (Jason Davis/Getty Images file photo)

“What’s next?” is a question J.D. Scholten often hears when he’s at the grocery store.

For most failed House candidates like Scholten, the answer doesn’t include running for Senate. But the Iowan is not your average losing candidate.

GOP congressman who supports border wall deployed to the border
Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger is a reconnaissance pilot in the Air National Guard

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., is a reconnaissance pilot and was deployed to the U.S. southern border this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who supports President Donald Trump’s push for a wall at the southern border, was deployed there this week with his Air National Guard unit, his office reported.

In addition to representing Illinois’ 16th District, Kinzinger is a lieutenant colonel in the Guard who flies reconnaissance aircraft, conducting aerial surveillance.