Defense & Cyberspace

Spending Shutdown Showdown Fizzling Out
Issues remain, but biggest fights getting knocked out ahead of deadline

From left, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Reps. David McKinley, R-W.Va., and Mike Doyle, D-Pa., attend a news conference at the House Triangle with the United Mine Workers of America on the Miners Protection Act, which would address expiring health care and pension benefits. Funding the miners’ benefits is one of the remaining issues that could affect the debate over government funding. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The first federal funding fight of President Donald Trump’s administration might be ending not with a bang but a whimper. 

House and Senate lawmakers negotiating an omnibus bill to fund the government through the end of September had said the biggest outstanding dispute was over cost-sharing subsidy payments to insurance companies that help lower-income people afford health care under the 2010 overhaul law.

Senior WH Official: ‘Military Preparations’ Are Underway for N. Korea
U.S. soon will attempt to influence Kim via ‘economic dimension of national power’

A North Korean ballistic missile during a “Victory Day” parade in 2013. A senior Trump administration official on Wednesday alluded to “military preparations” underway to possibly confront the North. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The Trump administration is preparing a range of options — including plans for military operations — to deal with North Korea and its nuclear arms and missile programs.

National security officials are crafting possible diplomatic, economic and military responses to deal with the Hermit Kingdom, a senior administration official told reporters Wednesday at the White House.

Decision Day for Avoiding a Government Shutdown?
Appropriators think that decision on another stopgap bill could come today

Appropriations Committee member Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., a former chairman, says there are still some “knotty issues” to work out on a 2017 spending bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Appropriators think they are close to a deal to fund the government through September, but the hour is fast approaching where a stopgap might be needed to prevent a shutdown at midnight Friday.

Kentucky Rep. Harold Rogers, a former Appropriations chairman and still a senior member of the committee, described the leaders as, “within striking distance” on a fiscal 2017 spending bill.

With Trump’s Wall Off the Table, Obamacare Takes Center Stage in Shutdown Showdown
Funding for subsidies leads remaining issues

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, right, Vermont Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, center, and Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin leave the Democratic Senate policy luncheon in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It appears President Donald Trump will settle for enhanced funding for border security instead of his signature wall.

Talks about averting a government shutdown progressed Tuesday after funding for building the wall between the U.S. and Mexico fell off the negotiating table, but lawmakers still had to work through a thicket of issues — including health care funding and family planning. They have until midnight Friday to reach a deal before government funding runs out.

Gardner Sees ‘Refreshing’ New Focus on North Korea
Senators will be briefed on North Korea threat at the White House Wednesday

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner has been a leading voice in the Republican caucus on North Korea since he entered the Senate in 2015 after serving two terms in the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators will be bused to the White House on Wednesday for a briefing on North Korea, and one Republican senator says attention on the threat is long overdue.

Sen. Cory Gardner has been among the lawmakers calling on the Trump administration to prioritize addressing the threat of North Korea launching nuclear weapons, and the Colorado Republican said it is “refreshing” to see some action.

Lawmakers Wary of Russia’s Ability to Plant Cyber Dirt
Moscow’s alleged meddling not just a thing of the past, officials warn

Maine Sen. Angus King said at a hearing last month on Russian cyber operations that Americans should be concerned about being compromised by fake information planted on their computers, and not just the stealing of emails. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a brief and largely overlooked exchange between Sen. Marco Rubio and America’s top spy during a January hearing about Russia’s alleged election meddling, the Florida Republican sketched out what he fears could be the next front in the hidden wars of cyberspace.

Could Russian hackers, Rubio asked then-Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., hypothetically gain access to a U.S. lawmaker’s computer, plant criminal evidence on the device of, say, child pornography or money laundering and then tip off law enforcement?

Analysis: U.S. Military Options in North Korea — From Bad to Worse
Experts say chances of successful preemptive strike not great

Barbed wire fence near the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating South and North Korea on April 14, 2017 in Paju, South Korea. Tensions between the United States and North Korea are high. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

War on the Korean peninsula may or may not be growing more likely. But it sure feels like it is.

Leaders in North Korea and the United States are rattling sabers at each other and conducting military exercises in the region. The entire Senate is set to visit the White House Wednesday for a briefing on the North Korean threat. The U.N. Security Council ambassadors came to the White House Monday and the United States is convening a special U.N. Security Council meeting to talk options on North Korea on Friday.

Schumer Hopeful That Trump Has Caved on the Wall
Calls Trump’s comments to conservative journalists ‘really good news’

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is warning against "poison pills." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Even after President Donald Trump tweeted, “Don't let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL,” the Senate's top Democrat is sounding optimistic that the commander-in-chief has caved.

“I want to say that it’s really good news that the president seems to be taking the wall off the table in the negotiations we’re having on an appropriations bill this week,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said. “It would remove the prospect of a needless fight over a poison pill proposal that members of both parties don’t support.”

Senate Democrats Look to Make Their Mark on Foreign Policy
With Obama no longer in the White House, minority party is stepping up

Maryland Sen. Benjamin L. Cardinsays there’s no shortage of foreign policy leaders among Senate Democrats. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Democrats are not shying away from criticizing the Trump administration when it comes to foreign policy.

It’s a new and potentially adversarial role: being in the minority while explosive headlines from conflicts abroad dominate the news.

Senate Intelligence Probe of Trump and Russia Grinds Forward
No one ever said it would be fast, but Democrats are frustrated about pace

Sens. Mark Warner and Richard M. Burr are slowly plodding ahead. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats may be frustrated about the pace of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but recent reports of trouble could be overblown.

A congressional source familiar with the committee’s work noted in particular the reported concerns about the Intelligence panel not having a full time staff for the investigation. The individuals detailed to work on the probe are spending roughly 95 percent of their time working on Russia’s activities in the United States, the source said.

Rob Portman's Plan to End Government Shutdown Showdowns
Revives bill to provide automatic continuing resolutions

Sen. Rob Portman wants to end the threat of federal funding lapsing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the risk of a government shutdown at week's end, Sen. Rob Portman is making another attempt at ending such threats once and for all.

The Ohio Republican, who led the Office of Management and Budget in the last GOP White House, will be reintroducing legislation that he has spearheaded since arriving in the Senate in 2011 that would provide for automatic continuing resolutions when Congress fails to advance appropriations bills before fiscal year funding deadlines.

Top Dems Blast Trump’s First 100 Days, Border Wall Demands
Schumer: Best if president 'stepped out' of government shutdown-avoidance talks

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. — pictured here in March — on Monday had critical words for President Donald Trump. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated at 11:35 a.m. Democratic leaders slammed President Donald Trump on Monday for a “parade of broken promises to working people” during his first 100 days, and said his demands for border wall funding in a must-pass spending bill have stalled talks to avert a government shutdown.

Congressional Democrats are planning a week-long barrage to counter a White House public relations campaign to paint Trump’s first three-plus months as successful. They offered a preview of their messages on a conference call with reporters, with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York dubbing many of Trump’s campaign promises “broken” or “unfulfilled.”

Syria, Trump and Congress’ Ever-Eroding War Powers
Lawmakers lukewarm to a force-authorization measure for U.S. missile strike

President Donald Trump and his national security team receive a briefing on April 6 about an air strike he ordered on a Syrian air base. (White House photo)

President Donald Trump has gone to great lengths to break from the policies and approaches of his predecessor. Yet, when it came to justifying a round of U.S. military missile strikes in Syria, the new commander in chief dusted off a legal rationale crafted by Barack Obama’s administration.

Like the 44th president, Trump contended that the Constitution vests in the office of the presidency enough war powers to carry out some isolated military operations without lawmakers’ approval.

Analysis: Trump’s Bold Talk Replaced by ‘See What Happens’ Stoicism
From health care to North Korea to Russia, president now strikes a wait-and-see tone

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and U.S. President Donald Trump hold a news conference in the East Room of the White House April 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Donald Trump is taking a wait-and-see approach more and more often, following a 2016 campaign that espoused bold promises and exuded confidence.

Take his comments Thursday afternoon about an effort among White House officials and congressional Republicans to try again at repealing and replacing former President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law.

Government Shutdown Prevention on Republicans, Democrats Say
Leaders urge members to oppose stopgap measure if no bipartisan agreement is reached

Appropriations Committee ranking member Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., told House Democrats its unlikely a bipartisan agreement on funding the government will be ready by the April 28 deadline. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats are putting the onus on Republicans to prevent a government shutdown.

It’s unlikely a bipartisan deal could be reached in time to meet the April 28 funding deadline, and unless an agreement is in place Democrats should vote-against a short-term stopgap measure, Democratic leaders said Thursday.