Defense

Jimmy Panetta Takes a Hard Line on Military Spending
Son of Defense secretary represents Monterey County

Rep. Jimmy Panetta, left, was sworn in to Congress alongside his father, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, also a former member of the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When the House approved the $577.9 billion fiscal 2017 defense spending bill on March 8, only 48 members — including four freshmen — voted against it. It’s politically difficult to vote against a measure that pays for the weapons U.S. forces need and supplies the funds for a 2.1 percent pay increase for Americans in uniform.

One of the freshmen was Jimmy Panetta, the youngest of former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s three children. He explained that he opposed the bill because it did not spend enough. “It could have done more to help my area on the central coast of California,” Panetta says.

Pentagon Leaders Say Soft Power Central to ISIS Strategy
Mattis, Dunford pitch appropriators on supplemental funding proposal

Defense Secretary James Mattis says soft power is key to defeating terrorists abroad. ( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Pentagon leaders on Wednesday stressed the importance of diplomacy in the fight against the Islamic State but sidestepped questions from Senate appropriators about the Trump administration’s proposed 29 percent cut to the State Department and other foreign operations accounts in fiscal 2018.

Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford pitched lawmakers on the military’s $30 billion request for supplemental funding for fiscal 2017, as well as the planned $54 billion boost to defense accounts proposed for next year, arguing that military readiness has been depleted after 16 years of war.

Nuclear Option Looms as Supreme Court Hearings Wrap Up
Senators ready to blame opposing party for any upending of Senate rules

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch testifies on the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings wrapping up, senators will soon confront whether his nomination will upend Senate rules.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not yet said  whether he would move to change Senate rules that currently require 60 votes to end debate on Gorsuch’s nomination. If eight members of the Democratic caucus do not join the 52 Republicans to move the nomination forward, McConnell could move to change the rules, lowering the threshold to a simple majority.

Opinion: Art as Soul Food – A Tough Yet Essential Case to Make
President Trump’s proposed budget cuts are ill-advised

Funding for humanities programs, such as the National Endowment for the Arts, is only a fraction of the federal budget and should not be cut, Curtis writes. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

Most critics expressing outrage at President Donald Trump’s proposed budget have focused on cuts to the Community Development Block Grant program that funnels money to Meals on Wheels. And who can blame them? 

If you’re looking for allies for your cause, that’s the narrative you want — one that sets up clear-cut heroes and villains, especially with budget director Mick Mulvaney, sent from central casting and all but twirling a mustache as he says, “We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good,” or “There’s no demonstrable evidence” that after-school programs that also feed children are actually “helping kids do better at school.”

Full-Year CR Threatens Military Training, Hawks Say
Thornberry: “All but one deploying Army unit will cease training after July 15th”

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, participates in House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's media availability with the Chairman's Task Force on Counterterrorism and Homeland Security in the Capitol on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The U.S. armed forces will see training severely curtailed if the continuing resolution funding the federal government is extended for the rest of the fiscal year, a leading lawmaker warned Wednesday.

Texas Republican Mac Thornberry, chairman of House Armed Services, said at a press breakfast that he has asked the military services what the effect would be of a full-year CR. He said he had not heard from all of them but offered a few startling examples.

Chances of Change to Defense Spending Caps Falling
Troubles confront Trump budget proposal to lift defense limits

Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., a veteran appropriator, is dubious of the proposed changes to the budget.. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican appropriators appear increasingly skeptical about President Donald Trump's eye-popping proposed changes to fiscal 2017 spending levels, including nondefense spending cuts, a proposed $30 billion defense supplemental and a $3 billion border security supplemental.

Lawmakers said in interviews that it looks increasingly unlikely that GOP lawmakers will propose — let alone pass — the needed changes to budget law to allow for Trump’s request to increase the fiscal 2017 defense cap by $25 billion and reduce the nondefense cap by $15 billion. The reductions in nondefense, which were not specified by Trump, likely would require some major, nearly immediate cuts in federal agency budgets.

Vulnerable Senate Democrats Stand Firm in Opposing GOP Health Care Plan
Senators in tight races are making a moral argument against the bill

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III talks with constituents during a town hall meeting in Martinsburg, W.Va., last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Senate Democrats up for re-election in Republican-leaning states are united in opposition to the GOP health care plan.

For them, overhauling the health care system is not just about policy. It’s a matter of right and wrong.

$30 Billion Defense Supplemental Duplicates Spending
Pentagon might not need full request from Trump

Trump, left, wants Congress to pass a supplemental spending bill for defense programs that the Pentagon might not need. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Pentagon may not really need the full $30 billion President Donald Trump requested last week for the current fiscal year.

That’s because Congress is already poised to provide a significant portion of the $30 billion in the fiscal 2017 Defense spending bill that the House passed on March 8. So that portion of the supplemental is redundant, congressional and Pentagon officials confirmed to CQ Roll Call.

McConnell Warns Republicans Against Voting Against GOP Health Care Bill
‘I would hate to be a Republican whose vote prevented us’ from repealing Obamacare, Majority leader says

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., issued a word of warning for Republicans reluctant to support the GOP's new health bill. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a warning Tuesday to Republicans considering voting against the GOP repeal of the 2010 health care law on Thursday.

“I would hate to be a Republican whose vote prevented us from keeping the commitment we’ve made to the American people for almost 10 years now,” McConnell said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Gorsuch: I Would Have ‘No Difficulty’ Ruling Against Trump
Tells Grassley it was a ‘softball’ question

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch fist-bumps his nephew Jack on the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch called it an easy question Tuesday when asked if he would have any trouble ruling against President Donald Trump, who nominated him to the high court.

“That’s a softball, Mr. Chairman,” Gorsuch responded to Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa. “I have no difficulty ruling for or against any party, other than what the law and the facts in a particular case require.”