Megan Scully

Kaine's Defense Bill Concerns Shed Light on His Decision-Making Process
Offered a reasoned argument against John McCain's pet initiatives

Tucked at the very end of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s 678-page report on the annual Pentagon policy bill is a wonky analysis from Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia detailing his reservations about making swift and wholesale changes to the Pentagon bureaucracy.  

A hawkish Democrat who is the party's presumptive vice presidential nominee, Kaine ultimately supported the defense authorization bill, despite his concerns about the organizational and administrative changes championed by the committee chairman, John McCain of Arizona.  

Senate Democrats Block Move to Proceed to Defense Spending Bill
Don't trust GOP to follow through with rest of appropriations process

For the second time in a week, Senate Democrats united to block the chamber’s consideration of the annual Pentagon spending bill, pushing off until at least September consideration of the massive measure.  

The vote was 55-42 on a motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill (S 3000) — a procedural vote to advance the measure that fell short of the 60 votes required for adoption.  

McCain Calls for Firings After Aircraft Carrier Delay
“People have to be, sooner or later, held accountable"

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain said Tuesday he wants someone fired over the latest delay to the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier.  

The Navy has acknowledged that it will not receive its next aircraft carrier, dubbed the CVN-78, until November, two months after the service had planned. The delay is the latest in a series of technical glitches, cost overruns and other problems with the program, which McCain has had in his sights for years.  

Success of Sprawling Defense Policy Bill Remains Uncertain

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees can trace their clout on Capitol Hill and within the Pentagon to one simple fact: The defense authorization has been signed into law annually for more than half a century.  

The panels’ unprecedented 54-year legislative streak gives them tremendous authority over Pentagon policy and spending priorities, and allows them to take a much more muscular approach to oversight than many other congressional committees.  

Success of Sprawling Defense Policy Bill Remains Uncertain
Partisan politics, abbreviated calendar, veto threat loom

The House and Senate Armed Services committees can trace their clout on Capitol Hill and within the Pentagon to one simple fact: The defense authorization has been signed into law annually for more than half a century.

The panels’ unprecedented 54-year legislative streak gives them tremendous authority over Pentagon policy and spending priorities, and allows them to take a much more muscular approach to oversight than many other congressional committees.

Pentagon Lifts Transgender Ban, Lawmakers Weigh In
Policy change draws fire from Republicans

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter on Thursday announced the Pentagon has lifted a ban on transgender people serving openly in the military, effective immediately.  

The policy change, which will take a year to implement fully, will allow the military to avail itself of “all talent possible” to remain the best fighting force in the world, Carter said.  

House Set to Debate Gitmo, AUMF in Defense Spending Measure
White House has concerns with the use of war funds

The House began debate late Tuesday on the fiscal 2017 defense spending bill, lining up amendment consideration for the $575.8 billion measure on Wednesday under a veto threat from the White House.    

The House Rules Committee made 75 amendments in order for floor consideration of the bill (HR 5293 ), but rejected two dealing with the rights of LGBT people, two days after an LGBT nightclub in Orlando became the setting for the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.  

Red Alert: Russia Looms Large as a Security Threat
U.S. scrambles to counter Cold War nemesis and reassure European allies

U.S. military forces deployed to Europe are tasked with two missions: Build cooperation among NATO allies and support operations in more dangerous corners of the globe. But as Russia, America’s Cold War nemesis, flexes its military muscle, these forces, which have dwindled in size in recent decades, are again on the front lines. Military leaders now say Russia is the greatest threat to U.S. security.  

That fact is not lost on Gen. Frank Gorenc, the four-star U.S. Air Force commander in Europe, who has seen Congress’ interest in his theater spike. What was recently viewed by lawmakers as a place to cut costs is now the opposite.  

McCain Bill Reignites Debate Over Guantanamo
Pentagon could plan stateside facility to house detainees

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the annual defense bill is reigniting a long-simmering debate over the Guantanamo Bay detention facility with a new provision that would allow the Defense Department to plan and design a stateside facility to one day house the detainees.  

The text of the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill, obtained by CQ Roll Call, would keep existing prohibitions on Guantanamo’s closure, including blocking any funds authorized in the bill to be used for actually constructing a stateside replacement.  

Defense Authorization Debate Begins in House
Prescription monitoring for those with PTSD, military support to Taiwan among amendments scheduled for floor debate

The amendments are part of the debate over how the House will prioritize spending in the fiscal 2017 Defense Authorization .  

The rule also contains a provision that, upon adoption, would automatically modify the bill to strike provisions that would require women between the ages of 18 and 26 to register with the draft. Instead, it would require a report on the current and future need for a centralized registration system for military selective service and whether it should include women.  

House Stands Down on Women in the Draft
Provision requiring women to enroll is removed from defense bill amendments

A congressional debate over whether women should be required to sign up for the draft just became a lot less likely due to a procedural maneuver that has rankled at least one high-ranking proponent.  

"This is a dead-of-night attempt to take an important issue off the table, and I think people will probably see through this tactic," House Armed Services ranking Democrat Adam Smith of Washington said Tuesday.  

Defense Secretary Pressed on Plan to Defeat ISIS After Brussels
Carter suggests shifting money to fight the terrorist group

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, used Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels to blast the administration for failing to submit a plan for fighting the Islamic State, as required in the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill.  

The law (PL 114-92), enacted late last year, demanded the administration send Congress the details of its strategy against the terrorist organization by Feb. 15.  

Republicans Rebuke Obama for Gitmo Closure Plan

Republican lawmakers sharply criticized the Obama administration’s plan to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, dismissing it as a "vague menu of options" that fails to recommend any alternative sites in the United States to house terrorist suspects still held at the military-run prison in Cuba.

Exclusive: Obama's Gitmo Closure Plan Won't Recommend U.S. Site

The Obama administration will bypass the difficult political decision of selecting a single alternative U.S. site for the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility when it sends Congress its much-anticipated plan for shuttering the controversial prison.

Exclusive: Pentagon No. 2 Warns of CR's 'Disastrous' Impact

The Pentagon is counting on Congress averting a painful government shutdown when the calendar turns to the new fiscal year on Oct. 1, but the Defense Department’s No. 2 civilian is not ruling out the possibility of a "disastrous" year-long continuing resolution to fund the military.

Iran Deal Divides Public, Poll Finds

Roughly half of Americans believe Charles E. Schumer, as the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, can and should oppose the Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration, compared to only 21 percent who believe the New York Democrat should hold his fire on the agreement.

Kansas Delegation Balks at Plans to Move Gitmo Detainees to Leavenworth

Pentagon officials traveled last week to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, home to the military’s only domestic maximum-security prison, to evaluate it as a potential alternative to the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, a Defense Department spokesman said Monday.

Exclusive: Gillibrand Held Up Dunford Over Military Sexual Assault Documents

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has lifted her anonymous hold on Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr.’s nomination to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, lining up his confirmation before the Senate departs for the August recess.

GOP Critics Have Few Options on Iran Deal

Republican lawmakers can do little to block or significantly alter the final nuclear agreement with Iran, despite blistering criticism and a pledge from at least one GOP hawk that it is dead on arrival.

Defense Secretary: Only 60 Syrians Trained to Fight ISIS
 

One day after updating President Barack Obama on the efforts against the Islamic State terror group, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and retiring Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin E. Dempsey acknowledged before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that progress against ISIS has been slower than anticipated on several fronts.

In Syria, the United States has trained only 60 members of the opposition, a number Carter conceded is “much smaller than what we hoped for at this point,” largely because of stringent vetting standards.