Iran

Drums of looming Iran war resound in Congress
As NDAA debate begins, McConnell urges colleagues ‘to keep these deadly serious developments at the top of our minds’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged colleagues to keep Iran developments at the top of their minds. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is launching a debate on its annual defense authorization bill this week amid the specter of war with Iran.

It is not clear to what extent possible U.S. military strikes on Iran will play a role in debate on the $750 billion measure or, for that matter, in a separate vote this week on blocking U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Iran’s arch foe.

Capitol Ink | Blinksmanship

Acting Defense Secretary Shanahan gives up post, withdraws name from nomination
Shanahan was to succeed Mattis, who had differences with President Trump

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has stepped down, and Army Secretary Mark Esper will succeed him. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has given up his post and withdrawn his nomination to take the job permanently, President Donald Trump tweeted, announcing yet another Cabinet change.

Army Secretary Mark Esper will be the new acting Pentagon boss, Trump said. Shanahan, a former defense industry executive, replaced retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis when he stepped down, citing differences with Trump.

Running for re-election the Trump way — with half the country against you
President’s Orlando kick-off could be the high point of his re-election campaign

President Donald Trump kicks off his re-election campaign, officially, in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday night. Despite a healthy economy, he has his challenges ahead of him in seeking a second term, Shapiro writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — When Donald Trump declares his candidacy for a second term Tuesday night in Orlando, the line of supporters fighting to get in will stretch from Disney World to the Everglades.

Many people are already saying that Trump is such a favorite for re-election that all 23 Democrats will withdraw after they make fools of themselves criticizing the Greatest Economy in World History during next week’s debates. Already, there is a huge movement to repeal the 22nd Amendment so Donald J. Trump can be anointed as President for Life.

Road Ahead: Border supplemental talks could overshadow regular appropriations
Senate to begin NDAA debate while House votes on first fiscal 2020 spending package

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is among the senators hoping for a deal on a supplemental border operations package this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional leaders are hoping this week will produce a breakthrough in negotiations over emergency funding for the migrant crisis at the southern border so they can pass it before the Independence Day recess. 

President Donald Trump has requested Congress pass a $4.5 billion supplemental to help the Department of Homeland Security process the growing number of migrants trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump: No doubt Iran was behind attacks on tankers
President says he won't fire Kellyanne Conway despite findings of Hatch Act violations

President Donald Trump speaks during a working lunch with governors in the White House on Thursday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Friday said U.S. officials are confident Iran is behind attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East.

During a wild 50-minute interview with "Fox & Friends," the president defiantly said he will not fire White House counselor Kellyanne Conway despite findings from a federal investigator that she broke the law, refused to endorse any future presidential run by Vice President Mike Pence, and tried to walk back comments from a controversial television interview by claiming he would contact the FBI if another government tried to meddle in a U.S. election.

Senate rejects Paul bid to block arms sales to Bahrain, Qatar

A bid by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to block arms sales to Qatar and Bahrain fell short on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate on Thursday rejected a bid by Sen. Rand Paul to block arms sales to Qatar and Bahrain even as senators brace for a more contentious debate next week over proposed weapons exports to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The vote Thursday means the proposed sales — a $3 billion Apache Helicopter package for Qatar and a $750 million munitions package to support Bahrain’s F-16 fleet — can go forward.

Democrats spar with State official over arms sales maneuver

Rep. David Cicilline accused a senior State Department official of gas-lighting Congress in his assertions about why the administration needed to subvert Congress on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A senior State Department official on Wednesday appeared to blame Democrats for the administration’s decision last month to declare a state of emergency over Iran to avoid congressional review of billions of dollars of weapon sales to Arab Gulf states.

R. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of State for political-military affairs, attributed the emergency order to holds placed in spring 2018 by Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Robert Menendez on $2 billion in proposed precision-guided missile sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Menendez, D-N.J., placed the holds in response to the many civilian casualties in the Yemen civil war, in which the two Gulf nations are fighting against Iranian-backed Houthi insurgents.

Saudi arms resolutions are within rules, McConnell says

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the effort to contest arms sales to Saudi Arabia is in line with Senate rules and procedures. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said he believes a bipartisan effort to force floor votes contesting the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia and other Arab states is in line with Senate rules and procedures, despite the State Department’s declaration last month of an emergency situation in order to skirt congressional oversight.

“My understanding is there would still be a vote triggered no matter which path the administration chose to go forward on the sales,” McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters in response to a question by CQ Roll Call. “Presumably, it will be very similar to a resolution of disapproval under a more traditional approach. At least, that’s what we think the parliamentarian believes.”

Trump: ‘Something pretty dramatic’ could happen with Mexico as tariffs loom
POTUS to allies at D-Day anniversary event: ‘Our bond is unbreakable’

President Donald Trump throws a MAGA hat to the crowd during a rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pa., in May. He has been critical and upbeat about talks with Mexico that could prevent his proposed tariffs. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Thursday breathed life into Republican members’ hopes that his administration might opt against imposing tariffs on goods entering the country from Mexico. And he also took a shot at Republican lawmakers who oppose the tariffs.

Mexican government officials met Wednesday at the White House with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other administration officials. The two sides are slated to meet again Thursday — though Pence is scheduled to travel to Virginia and Pennsylvania for D-Day anniversary and political events.