defense

Analysis: The Pentagon has a credibility problem, and it’s only getting worse
The Defense Department’s waffling on casualties from Jan. 8 Iran strike latest in a growing trend

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, left, and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrive for a briefing in Capitol Visitor Center for a closed-door briefing about Syria on Oct. 17. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Americans breathed a collective sigh of relief when, the morning after Iran’s Jan. 8 ballistic missile attack on Al Asad air base in Iraq, Defense Department leaders said there were “no casualties.” 

That initial assessment hasn't held up, and neither have the department's varying statements on the matter since then.

Trump undercuts military messages on brain injuries
President describes injuries from Iranian strikes as ‘headaches’

President Donald Trump’s description of potential military brain injuries as “not very serious” stands in contrast to the military’s call for such injuries not to be minimized. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s comment Wednesday that U.S. troops suffering concussion-like symptoms had “not very serious” injuries clashed with a yearslong, hard-fought U.S. military campaign to spread the message that a brain injury is not something to be minimized.

Trump was referring to at least 11 cases of troops in Iraq reporting symptoms that officials said may or may not turn out to be so-called traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs.

Top Trump aide stops short of echoing boss’ claim that economy is ‘best it’s ever been’
But Lawrence Kudlow touts wage growth and low unemployment rate

Larry Kudlow, director of President Donald Trump’s National Economic Council, says the economy under Trump will “rank up there” with previous strong economies. (Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser on Friday stopped short of endorsing the president’s repeated claim that the U.S. economy is at its strongest point in the country’s history.

“In history? I think it’ll rank up there, yes,” Lawrence Kudlow told CQ Roll Call on Friday. But he notably did not say the U.S. economy is the strongest it’s ever been as his boss heads into what pollsters and strategists in both parties say could be a photo-finish election.

GAO: Trump’s hold on Ukraine aid violated budget law
1974 budget law limits presidential authority to prohibit congressionally approved spending

President Donald Trump boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in October. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Government Accountability Office said in an opinion Thursday that President Donald Trump violated federal budget law when he ordered White House officials to withhold most of a $250 million military aid package for Ukraine last summer.

The finding comes after House Democrats delivered articles of impeachment on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress grounds stemming from the Ukraine affair to the Senate Wednesday evening, triggering the Senate trial expected to start next week.

Trump signs ‘phase one’ China pact, first of two trade milestones this week
Senate to take up NAFTA replacement before impeachment trial begins

President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a “Keep America Great” campaign rally in Milwaukee on Tuesday night. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Amid the impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed the first of two significant milestones on trade — an agreement with China that amounts to a ceasefire in his war with the Asian giant.

Trump is expected to get a second win on the issue later this week, with the Senate expected to approve a revised trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. Aides say Trump plans to trumpet both as part of his reelection sales pitch that he is a good steward of the economy.

Pentagon to talk Space Force plans, uniforms with Trump
Officials expected to brief president on plans for starting up newly authorized military service branch

The Air Force chief of staff sits in the foreground as members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Defense Department brass are expected Wednesday afternoon to brief President Donald Trump on their plans for standing up a new military branch called the Space Force, and a Pentagon official said they may even present several logo options for the new armed service.

The White House meeting is expected to include Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett and Air Force Gen. Jay Raymond, who is on his second day of the job as the first-ever chief of space operations, the top officer in the sixth U.S. military service.

House to vote on military force authorizations this month
Progressive Democrats want votes on language removed from defense bill

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., center, and other Democratic leaders have promised votes on war powers and authorizations before the end of the month. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders committed to progressives Tuesday that the House will vote on legislation to prevent funds for unauthorized military force against Iran and to repeal the 2002 authorization of use of military force the week of Jan. 27.

The bills, sponsored by California Reps. Ro Khanna and Barbara Lee, respectively, will get separate votes, according to Khanna and Progressive Caucus co-chair Pramila Jayapal.

Hoyer: House priorities for 2020 include health care, infrastructure, climate, redistricting
Legislative action also planned on appropriations, defense, education, housing, modernizing Congress

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer is outlining a busy legislative agenda for 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats in 2020 plan to pass legislation on top party priorities like health care, infrastructure and climate as well as more under-the-radar subjects like modernizing Congress and redistricting — all while trying to fully fund the government on time for the first time in 24 years, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said.

The No. 2 Democrat, who is in charge of the floor schedule, outlined his legislative priorities for the year in an interview with CQ Roll Call. The aforementioned issues were among a long list that Hoyer said Democrats plan to pursue in the second session of the 116th Congress. Others the Maryland Democrat mentioned include education, taxes, the annual defense and intelligence authorizations, and reauthorizations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and National Flood Insurance Program.

‘Eliminated’ Soleimani and ‘booming’ economy: Takeaways from Trump’s first 2020 rally
President alleges ‘Crazy Bernie’ condemned U.S. military strike on Soleimani

President Donald Trump speaks during a reelection rally at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio, on Thursday night. (Kyle Mazza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — “Hello, Toledo,” President Donald Trump told an arena full of supporters Thursday night as he made clear he believes the Buckeye State is now solidly GOP territory.

“We love Toledo, you remember, I was here a lot,” Trump said at the top of another raucous campaign rally. “You remember 2016 — what a year that was, right?”

Pompeo walks back comments that appeared to contradict Trump on embassy attacks
After Trump told rally about multiple embassies targeted, secretary of State says targets weren’t known

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives at the Capitol on Wednesday to brief members of the House on the situation with Iran. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried Friday to clean up comments from the night before  that appeared to contradict President Trump’s claim that the Iranian general he had killed was targeting multiple U.S. embassies.

Pompeo told reporters U.S. officials acted on “specific information on an imminent threat,” and that the “threat stream included attacks on U.S. embassies. … Full stop.”