defense

Soldier reunited with family during State of the Union
Army sergeant surprises his wife and two children

Sgt. 1st Class Townsend Williams kisses his wife, Amy Williams, after surprising his family during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump used part of Tuesday night’s State of the Union address to surprise Amy Williams, a Fort Bragg-based wife of a deployed Army sergeant, and her two young children.

While the president highlighted her volunteer work, he invited Sgt. 1st Class Townsend Williams down to the gallery to be reunited with his family.

House votes to curb Trump's power to attack Iran
11 Republicans join Democrats to limit presidential actions

Rep. Barbara Lee sponsored the amendment to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House on Thursday passed, on bipartisan votes, two related measures designed to prevent President Donald Trump from launching military attacks on Iran.

The two votes were the latest sign of lawmakers’ growing willingness in recent years to exercise their war powers muscles after decades of disuse.

Ahead of House Iran war votes, Trump sends mixed messages
Despite veto threats, president urges lawmakers to vote their conscience on 2002 AUMF repeal

Anti-war demonstrators attend a rally outside the White House on Jan. 25. The action also took place in 153 cities in 20 countries for the Global Day of Protest. (Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images file photo)

As the House prepares to vote Thursday on two measures that would constrain President Donald Trump’s ability to launch attacks on Iran, the White House sent out mixed messages about how it wants lawmakers to vote.

The House will debate and vote on two measures that take different approaches to limiting the Trump administration’s military options when it comes to Tehran, which remains outraged at the United States for the early January U.S. drone strike in Iraq that killed Iran’s most powerful general, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 28
GOP senators met Tuesday to gather input on whether to call witnesses

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks with reporters before the start of the Senate impeachment trial proceedings Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

File updated 5:30 p.m.

The president’s defense team has completed its presentation.

Pentagon using artificial intelligence to track wildfires, study chaos of combat
Head of military AI office promises more money for 2021 budget

National Guard helicopters drop water on a wildfire near Ojai, Calif., on Dec. 9, 2017. The Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center has been working with the National Guard to track natural disasters using AI tools. (David McNew/Getty Images file photo)

One year ago, Air Force Lt. Gen. John N.T. “Jack” Shanahan became the first director of a new Pentagon office created to act as a clearinghouse for all of the U.S. military’s work on artificial intelligence. Among a raft of near-term projects the office has taken up is one deploying computer vision technology to track and combat wildfires. 

Taking tools developed for Project Maven, an initiative to analyze and identify objects on the ground from videos shot by aerial drones during the fight against the Islamic State, the Pentagon’s office known as the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center has been working with National Guard units combating wildfires in California and hurricanes elsewhere.

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.