Defense & Cyberspace

Coons: Senate Can Reassert Foreign Policy Clout
Chance to ‘make the Senate great again’

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., suggests that the Trump Administration’s conflicting statements provide the Senate with an opportunity to reassert its clout on foreign policy matters.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Trump administration’s often conflicting statements regarding foreign affairs have provided the Senate an opportunity to reassert its clout in directing U.S. foreign policy, Sen. Chris Coons suggests. 

In a public sit-down conversation with former Sec. of State Madeleine Albright on U.S. global leadership this week, the Delaware Democrat said that “one unexpected outcome of the Trump administration may be to make the Senate great again” by forcing the chamber to draft bipartisan legislation to fill the gaps the Trump administration leaves.

In the House, Full Speed Ahead on Defense Spending

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, wants to increase defense spending. It might not be that simple. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry says he is “moving forward” to mark up a fiscal 2018 defense authorization bill the week before the Independence Day recess at about $705 billion.

But, the Texas Republican said, talks are ongoing among senior lawmakers and it is “possible” there could be “some adjustment” to that amount.

Air Force Opposes Creation of Space Corps
‘Pentagon is complicated enough,’ Air Force secretary says

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, center, says the military is complicated enough without having a dedicated Space Corps. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Air Force leaders on Wednesday pushed back on a House Armed Services panel’s plan to build a new fighting force dedicated to space.

“The Pentagon is complicated enough,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters following her testimony in front of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart and cost more money. If I had more money, I would put it into lethality, not bureaucracy.”

House GOP Undecided on Spending Path
Speaker says Republicans still having ‘family conversation’

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., says Republicans are still at the 'family conversation' level of figuring out the appropriations process. Also appearing are, from left, Reps. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With a little more than seven legislative weeks before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, House Republicans still do not have a consensus on the process for funding the government, fueling some discontent in the conference. 

“We haven’t decided exactly how we’re going to go about our appropriations process in this first year, but we’re going to move together on consensus,” Speaker Paul D. Ryan told reporters after the Republican conference met Wednesday morning.

DNC Said No Thanks to Help After Hack
Former Homeland chief says feds could have done more

Jeh Johnson, who formally led the Department of Homeland Security, said in hindsight there was more the federal government could have done to prevent hacking and election interference. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday the Democratic National Committee turned down help from the FBI after its system was hacked — and that he had not known about it for months.

“What are we doing? Are we in there?” Johnson said he asked when he became aware of the intrusion. He said the response he received was that the FBI had spoken to the committee but “they don’t want our help.”

Russia and Iran Sanctions Effort Hits Constitutional Snag
House will not take up Senate bill as written

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady says there is a procedural issue with the Senate’s sanctions bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

BY NIELS LESNIEWSKI and LINDSEY McPHERSON, CQ ROLL CALL

What may be a small procedural obstacle has some senior Democrats crying foul over the House’s plans for new sanctions against Iran and Russia.

Senators Look for Path on New War Authorization
Current authorization dates to 9/11 attacks

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he would only pursue a new war authorization if it had bipartisan consensus. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senators on Tuesday gamely struggled to see if there was a way to set aside longstanding partisan differences over a new authorization for use of military force amid expanding military campaigns in Syria and Iraq, and under a new president who has delegated significant tactical authority to his commanders.

The Trump administration is waging its anti-ISIS campaign under the authority of the 2001 AUMF, which Congress passed shortly after the September 11 attacks. Sixteen years later, experts on both sides of the aisle increasingly agree the authorization (PL 107-40) has been stretched beyond almost all legal recognition to justify the occasional air strike on Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria and even far-flung groups like Al-Shabab in East Africa.

House Defense Panel Would Create Space Force

Next stop for the military, outer space? (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A House Armed Services panel intends to create a new fighting force called Space Corps within the Air Force to improve the U.S. military’s ability to address threats in space, according to a summary of the Strategic Forces panel’s forthcoming fiscal 2018 mark.

“There is bipartisan acknowledgement that the strategic advantages we derive from our national security space systems are eroding,” said a joint statement from Mike D. Rogers of Alabama and Jim Cooper of Tennessee, the panel’s chairman and ranking Democrat, respectively. “We are convinced that the Department of Defense is unable to take the measures necessary to address these challenges effectively and decisively, or even recognize the nature and scale of its problems. Thus, Congress has to step in.”

Trump Attacks Ossoff in Georgia Special Election Closing Argument
President: Dem ‘wants to raise your taxes to the highest level’

President Trump is attacking the Democratic candidate in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, Jon Ossoff, seen here at his campaign office in Roswell, Ga., on the final day of campaigning on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As voters head to the polls in a key Georgia special House election, President Donald Trump’s closing argument paints Democrat Jon Ossoff as pro-high taxes and weak on crime and security.

By all accounts, Trump had Democratic leanings for much of his adult life living high above Manhattan. But his late push for GOP candidate Karen Handel - which essentially tries to rile up Republican voters with a read meat pitch - shows how, on many issues, he has drifted to the right.

House Gets to Work on Defense Authorization Bill
GOP to push for more dollars for the Pentagon

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, will begin shepherding the defense authorization bill through that chamber this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House Armed Services subcommittees will all meet this week to approve their slices of the annual Pentagon policy bill, the first formal step in the months-long negotiations to move the massive measure through Congress and to the president’s desk. The Senate Armed Services panels will follow suit soon. 

Subcommittees of the House Armed Services Committee plan to mark up their portions of the fiscal 2018 defense authorization measure June 21 and 22. Then, on June 28, the full committee will hold its daylong markup. Senate Armed Services plans to hold its mostly closed markups of the bill the last week of June.

Trump Finds Strange Bedfellows on Cuba Policy
US-Cuba analyst: Given executive powers, president needs little Hill buy-in

Tourists walk near a poster of Cuban President Raul Castro and then-President Barack Obama in Havana last year. On Friday, President Donald Trump announced changes to Cuba policies instituted by Obama. (YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images file photo)

By wading into the always-tricky domestic politics of U.S.-Cuba relations, President Donald Trump finds himself working “hand in glove” with some former foes and new allies.

The businessman turned chief executive promised during the campaign to roll back some of President Barack Obama’s policies aimed at warming relations with America’s Caribbean neighbor. In doing so before his 200th day in office, Trump defied the wishes of some lawmakers and corporate titans.

Trump Announces Cuba Policy Rollback, With Flourish

President Donald Trump speaks about policy changes he is making toward Cuba at the Manuel Artime Theater in the Little Havana neighborhood on June 16, 2017 in Miami. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Calling the Obama administration’s Cuba policies “terrible and misguided,” President Donald Trump on Friday announced the overturning of the previous White House’s liberalization of travel and business practices to the island nation in front of a friendly crowd in South Florida.

“We now hold the cards. The previous administration eases of restrictions on travel and trade … only enrich the Cuban regime,” he said in Miami, announcing alterations to the Obama-era policies.

White House to Tighten Cuba Rules on Travel, Business

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., come at the issue of normalizing relations with Cuba from different angles. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Donald Trump plans to outline Friday a tougher stance with Havana by partially tightening travel and business rules that had been eased under the Obama administration to normalize relations with communist Cuba.

The changes were made with input from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American and a harsh critic of the Cuban government. But even senior administration officials admitted in a briefing with reporters Thursday that “You can’t put the genie back into the bottle,” referring to some Obama-era policies that have become popular.

Graham ‘All In’ on Trump’s New Afghanistan Strategy
Graham and McCain among lawmakers briefed on way forward on Wednesday

Sens. John McCain, left, and Lindsey Graham have been briefed on the new plan for Afghanistan.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Lindsey Graham is elated about President Donald Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy.  

Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster briefed Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain and Graham Wednesday on the new plan for the fight in Afghanistan.

US Cybersecurity in Need of Rapid Repair, Senators Told
Ex-Pentagon aide warns of large-scale attack by North Korea

Massachusetts Sen. Edward J. Markey is concerned about cybersecurity deficiencies in the private sector, particularly in utility companies. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Cybersecurity in the United States is in a severe state of disrepair, leaving the country vulnerable to attack from hacking groups backed by its opponents, two witnesses testified in a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday.

The witnesses told the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy that they believe a massive cyberattack is imminent unless the U.S. ratchets up its efforts to protect against and deter offensives from countries such as Russia, China, and North Korea.