DEFENSE UBER

Trump Told the Senate About Niger Actions in June
Is Congress reading what they’re sent?

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey is among the lawmakers who were not familiar with U.S. action in Niger. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As senators say they didn’t know about the presence of U.S. troops (or the number of them) in Niger, some are calling for a review of how Congress gets notified of such actions.

Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is among the lawmakers who in recent days have said on television they were unaware of the activity in Niger, despite a formal letter about U.S. forces in the region that went to Capitol Hill months ago.

Congress Should Revise Base Closure Rules, Report Recommends
Heritage Foundation says lawmakers should authorize a new round

Congress should revise its rules on base closures, a new report from the Heritage Foundation recommends. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

Congress should revise the rules guiding base realignment and closure and authorize a new round, a new paper from a conservative think tank recommended.

Done properly, a round of base realignment and closure, or BRAC, is a good example of federal efficiency, wrote Frederico Bartels, an analyst with the Heritage Foundation.

Gold Star Widow Confirms Wilson’s Account of Phone Call With Trump
Myeshia Johnson says Rep. Frederica Wilson’s account of the call is ‘100 percent correct’

Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson attends the burial service for U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson in Hollywood, Florida, on Saturday. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In her first public appearance since her husband’s death, Gold Star widow Myeshia Johnson confirmed Rep. Frederica Wilson’s assertions last week about President Donald Trump’s phone call with Johnson.

[Exclusive: Pentagon Document Contradicts Trump’s Gold Star Claims]

Disaster Program Issues Loom Over Future Aid
As lawmakers dole out millions for Texas and Puerto Rico, oversight problems remain

A U.S. Army soldier tosses bottled water provided by FEMA to be passed on to residents in a neighborhood without grid electricity or running water on Oct. 17 in San Isidro, Puerto Rico. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

As lawmakers shuttle multiple supplemental spending packages through Congress to address the devastation from one of the worst hurricane seasons on record, federal audit reports show major ongoing problems with federal agencies’ ability to ensure money is spent correctly.

Tens of billions of dollars are expected to flow from two major sources: the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund and the Community Development Block Grant program, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. But multiple federal watchdog reports demonstrate that lawmakers are in some cases funding repairs with little ability to ensure the work complies with federal law.

Pentagon Document Contradicts Trump’s Gold Star Claims
Email undermines veracity of president’s statement about Gold Star contacts

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly waits to speak as press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders introduces him during a White House briefing October 19, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In the hours after President Donald Trump said on an Oct. 17 radio broadcast that he had contacted nearly every family that had lost a military servicemember this year, the White House was hustling to learn from the Pentagon the identities and contact information for those families, according to an internal Defense Department email.

The email exchange, which has not been previously reported, shows that senior White House aides were aware on the day the president made the statement that it was not accurate — but that they should try to make it accurate as soon as possible, given the gathering controversy.

Podcast: America's Iran Quandary and Why Money Can't Prevent Military Mishaps
The Week Ahead, Episode 75

The destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with a chemical tanker in August, one of several deadly military accidents this year. Such incidents are on the decline, according to a Roll Call analysis. (Courtesy U.S. Navy)

CQ foreign policy reporter Rachel Oswald and Kelsey Davenport of the Arms Control Association explain why Congress is in no rush to change the Iran nuclear deal. And CQ defense reporter John M. Donnelly argues the Pentagon does not necessarily need more money to prevent deadly accidents.

Show Notes:

Photos of the Week: Senate Grills Sessions and Adopts Budget
The week of Oct. 16 as captured by Roll Call's photographers

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., takes a selfie on Tuesday outside of Dirksen Building along Constitution Avenue NE. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate was the only congressional chamber in session this week as the House recessed for members to spend time in their districts. On the list of what the Senate tackled this week — a hearing with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the adoption of a budget resolution that's another step in the path toward a tax overhaul.

Senate Adopts Budget With House-Backed Changes
Late amendment expected to help speed up consideration of a tax overhaul

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives for lunch with Senate Republicans in the Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate adopted a fiscal 2018 budget resolution Thursday night that was amended at the 11th hour with the aim of making it acceptable enough to House Republicans to avoid a conference committee and speed the consideration of a tax overhaul.

The budget was adopted 51-49.

Senate Moves to Adopt House-Backed Budget Changes
Amendment negates need to go to conference to iron out differences

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi’s amendment modified the House-passed budget resolution. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate on Thursday night agreed, 52-48, to an amendment by Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi that modified the House-passed budget resolution, jettisoning reconciliation instructions aimed at getting $203 billion in mandatory spending cuts. 

Instead, the Wyoming Republican’s amendment replaces the House directive for a deficit-neutral tax cut with one that could add up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years, similar to the Senate’s.

Trump’s Generals Had a Very Emotive Day
White House isn't denying account of president's words to military widow

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly speaks during a briefing Thursday. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The generals with whom President Donald Trump has surrounded himself have seen combat and are known for public personas one part stoic and two parts tough. But on Thursday, Trump’s generals had a very emotive day.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, the retired Marine Corps four-star general who once commanded troops in Iraq, appeared in the White House briefing room and delivered a passionate rebuke of Rep. Frederica S. Wilson, D-Fla., who this week slammed Trump for his alleged remarks to the widow of a fallen U.S. soldier.