Defense & Cyberspace

Asking the hard questions to implement the National Defense Strategy
Conversation on the changing role of America’s military needs to expand beyond Washington

Oklahoma Sen. James M. Inhofe is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Two years ago, the National Defense Strategy, or NDS, shifted America’s military focus to a new era of great-power competition, especially with China and Russia. Welcomed with broad bipartisan support, this groundbreaking document calls on us to make tough choices to reshape our military, reform the Department of Defense, and recommit to strengthening alliances and attracting new partners around the world.

President Donald Trump has committed to rebuilding the foundations of American military power. The NDS provides the blueprint to achieve that objective, and it must be fully implemented. That is why we have made it our priority on the Senate and House Armed Services committees to ensure that we turn the NDS from a strategy on paper into a strategy in action.

Appropriators seek to wrap up talks this weekend
But panel members acknowledge ‘hurdles’ as Dec. 20 deadline for bill passage looms

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, on Thursday said he was “more enthusiastic than I was a couple of days ago” that final negotiations on spending bills could be done this weekend. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Spending bill negotiators set their sights on wrapping up a year-end deal by this weekend, but they differed on how realistic that deadline might be.

With only two weeks left before current funding runs dry, appropriators are hoping to finalize work on all 12 spending bills and pass them by Dec. 20 to avoid another stopgap measure or possible government shutdown. But unless a deal comes together in the next several days, lawmakers have warned, there likely won’t be enough time to write the bills and move them through both chambers before the holiday recess.

Targeting China, senators want Olympics to move up human rights timeline
10 senators have written to IOC President Thomas Bach

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is leading an effort to pressure the IOC to speed up implementation of human rights standards . (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Looking toward China’s hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympics, senators from both parties want the International Olympic Committee to speed up the timeline for requirements designed to protect human rights in host countries.

In the letter signed by 10 senators led by Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, the lawmakers express concern about China’s track record to IOC President Thomas Bach.

Trump jokes about White House ‘Russian Room’ at UN lunch
‘We’ll take care of that,’ US president tells Moscow’s ambassador to UN

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint press conference after their summit on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki, Finland. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump just can’t help himself sometimes — not even when it comes to Russia, the country that has dogged his entire presidency.

Amid an impeachment scandal related to his dealings with Ukraine — which the Kremlin invaded in 2014 — Trump dropped a quip Thursday about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s homeland.

White House says it’s ready for impeachment votes and trial
However, one Trump aide says: ‘We don’t know if Pelosi has the votes or not’

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone leaves the Capitol after attending the Senate Republicans' lunch  Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump and senior aides reacted to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement that articles of impeachment are coming by essentially calling for a vote and a Senate trial.

The White House messaging is similar to that used by President Bill Clinton and his aides in 1998: pressing lawmakers to expedite the impeachment process and Senate trial so Washington can focus on other matters.

House will proceed with articles of impeachment against Trump, Pelosi says
Pelosi instructed committee chairmen to draft articles

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces on the Speakers Balcony in the Capitol on Thursday that she is calling on the House Judiciary Committee to proceed with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that she has asked House committee chairmen to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

“Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and a heart full of love for America, today I'm asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment,” Pelosi said.

The perils of positive thinking
America’s optimism aside, Pentagon's track record of buying arms has been spotty since WWII

An F-35 zips past the Capitol dome during a flyover in Washington on June 12. In the decades since World War II, the Pentagon’s track record of buying the weapons and equipment needed to execute its mission to protect America and its interests has become spotty. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — Americans like optimism. It goes hand in hand with the can-do spirit that saw industry transform itself into the juggernaut that powered the Allied victory in the Second World War.

The Defense Department’s overly optimistic approach to acquisition is a major factor behind that checkered performance. In part, that’s a reflection of military culture, where it is hard to tell a superior, especially one wearing stars on his or her shoulders, that a goal won’t be met.

Congress frets over program to streamline Pentagon procurement
Some worry that companies won’t spend own money on research, may not compete for important programs

Some in Congress worry that, without assurances of a payoff in production, industry will not spend its own money on research work and some companies may not even compete for some important programs, denying the Pentagon access to certain talent. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Four years ago, Section 804 of the defense authorization law freed certain Pentagon programs from the usual acquisition rules, from documenting why a program is needed to how much Pentagon experts who do not work for the same armed service think it will cost.

But now virtually every congressional panel, including both authorizers and appropriators, has expressed in legislation or in reports some degree of concern about how these programs to develop new missiles, satellites, helicopters and combat vehicles are being implemented.

A tale of two days — and tones — for Trump as he wraps wild NATO meeting
As president urges alliance to ‘get along with Russia,’ GOP chairman warns relations between two countries are at ‘low point’

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, gestures to Turkey's President Recep Erdogan, right, while President Donald Trump looks on as NATO leaders leave the stage after having a group photo taken at the summit in London on Wednesday. (Peter Nicholls/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump shifted from an aggressive and attacking offense on the first day of a NATO summit in London to a more defensive posture on its second and final day.

Trump resorted to name-calling Wednesday as he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau renewed their on-again/off-again feud. The president called Trudeau “two-faced” after the Canadian prime minister was caught on a hot mic Tuesday evening mocking his American counterpart for delaying other leaders by holding lengthy question-and-answer sessions with reporters that altered the agenda.

Appropriators set Friday deadline for unresolved issues
Signals renewed intent to get a spending bill deal completed before the holiday recess

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby says finalizing all 12 spending bills would be a “monumental task.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Individual spending bill negotiators are attempting to resolve lingering disputes this week before kicking any final disagreements upstairs.

Subcommittee heads have until Friday to give Appropriations Committee leadership a list of the sticking points that must be settled to complete work on fiscal 2020 bills, lawmakers said Wednesday.

Trump has a new NATO foil: Canada’s ‘two-faced’ Justin Trudeau
U.S. president continues to embrace Turkey's Erdogan as other leaders keep their distance

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak Tuesday at the NATO summit in London. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

France’s Emmanuel Macron was first. Now President Donald Trump is feuding at a NATO summit in London with Canada’s Justin Trudeau, calling him “two-faced.”

But in keeping with his contrarian foreign policy approach, Trump told reporters Wednesday he thinks Turkey’s hardline leader, Recep Erdogan, is doing a “great job.”

Kennedy: ‘I believe what I believe’ on Ukraine's role in 2016 election
Louisiana Republican once again defends his comments on the heated topic

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., waits in the elevator in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. John Kennedy on Tuesday held fast to his belief that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election, despite the intelligence community concluding the claim is false.

“I believe what I believe. Some people believe otherwise and they’re entitled to it,” the Louisiana Republican said to reporters Tuesday.

House pushes ‘dozen bills or none’ approach to spending talks
GOP senators express doubts as House leaders insist on finalizing appropriations by Dec. 20

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby says he doubts that all 12 overdue spending bills for the current fiscal year could be finalized before the Dec. 20 deadline. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders are insisting that all 12 overdue spending bills for the current fiscal year must be finalized before any of them can reach the floor, according to sources familiar with strategy talks.

The demand for some kind of grand bargain could complicate hopes for completion of at least a portion of fiscal 2020 appropriations before stopgap funding runs dry on Dec. 20 and Congress adjourns for the winter holidays. 

Broken bromance: Trump and Macron clash in lengthy bickerfest at NATO summit
‘They decided not to be compliant with NATO,’ French leader snaps at U.S. president about Turkey

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and France’s President Emmanuel Macron aired their differences in public on Tuesday. (Photo by Ludovic Marin/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — One of the world’s most unlikely world leader bromances appears to be over.

President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron clashed Tuesday in a remarkable question-and-answer session with reporters that was broadcast around the globe. From U.S.-French trade to Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria and the Islamic State’s posture there to a clear disagreement about the role of NATO, the two leaders who once wooed one another jousted and interrupted one another for nearly 45 minutes during an alliance meeting in London.

Trump relishes in casting France’s Macron as new bad boy of NATO
US president acknowledges impeachment probe casts ‘cloud’ over his diplomatic efforts

President Donald Trump and France's President Emmanuel Macron answer questions during their meeting at at the NATO summit in London on Tuesday.. (ludovic Marin/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Casting Emmanuel Macron as the bad boy of NATO, President Donald Trump kicked off a two-day alliance meeting by sounding off on everything from the French president’s “insulting” comments, his own impeachment and a possible Mike Pompeo Senate bid to an ally’s crucial elections and beyond.

During a 50-minute gaggle with reporters during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Trump appeared to revel in putting heat on Macron as their relationship continues to sour. Unprompted by reporters, he dinged Macron over his country’s unemployment rate and sputtering economy and offered something of a warning to France as he — in a complete 180-degree shift — became the NATO alliance’s defender.