defense

3 things to watch: ‘Low expectations’ for Trump’s trip to meet Japan’s new emperor
‘I don’t think that the purpose of this trip is to focus on trade,’ administration official says

President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold a news conference at Mar-a-Lago in April 2018. The two leaders will spend another few days together when Trump visits Japan Saturday through Tuesday. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump will land in Japan on Saturday for a series of high-level meetings, but White House officials and experts say to expect a trip heavy on pomp-and-circumstance and light on substance.

In a sign of how important the U.S.-Japanese relationship is to the Asian country, Trump will become the first foreign leader to meet its new emperor, Naruhito. He will also meet several times with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for discussions on a list of issues ranging from trade to North Korea.

US could be at war by the time Congress returns from recess, Udall says
Democrats force votes on approving war with Iran, but come up short in the Senate

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is worried that the United States may be at war with Iran by the time Congress returns from recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats on both sides of Capitol Hill have been forcing votes on President Donald Trump’s military powers this week amid the ratcheting up of tensions with Iran, getting predictably disparate results.

In the latest test, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday turned back a Democrat-led effort to move legislation designed to thwart preemptive military action against Iran.

Military pay raise and troop increase endorsed by Senate panel
The Defense Department’s requests included 7,700 additional troops and a 3.1 percent military pay raise next year

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., attends a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing in the Russell Senate Office Building on March 26, 2019. Tillis is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, which quickly approved its portion of the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill. It included a military pay raise and 7,700 additional troops. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo).

The Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee quickly approved its portion of the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill Tuesday by a voice vote, endorsing the Defense Department’s requests for 7,700 additional troops and a 3.1 percent military pay raise next year.

The subcommittee, the only of the Armed Services panels to hold a public markup, approved a manager’s package of 54 amendments by voice vote. But the committee did not make any information publicly available about the amendments.

House appropriators put a premium on fixing decaying subs
The decision to pay for maintenance over shipbuilding, is based on long repair delays for some of the Navy’s pricey subs

The USS Newport News (R) secures itself next to its sister Los Angeles-class submarine USS Boise (L) after returning to Norfolk Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia. House appropriations said it plans to move $650 million of the Navy 2020 shipbuilding funds toward the maintenance of three submarines: USS Boise, USS Hartford and USS Columbus. (Mike Heffner/Getty Images)

The House Appropriations Committee on Monday said it plans to move $650 million from the Navy’s requested fiscal 2020 shipbuilding account to the service’s operations and maintenance account to address maintenance delays for the Pentagon’s submarine fleet.

The decision to fund more maintenance against shipbuilding, according to a committee report released Monday, is based on long repair delays for some of the Navy’s pricey attack submarines.

Space Force gets cautious OK in House defense spending bill
The House 2020 defense spending bill would provide $15 million, a fraction of Trump’s $72.5 million request

Demonstrators hold up signs protesting a possible Space Force before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on April 11, 2019, in Washington, DC. The House Defense Appropriations subcommittee provided $15 million in its defense spending bill, much lower than the administration’s request for $72.5 million. (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)

The House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee has signaled that it will entertain, but constrain, President Donald Trump’s plans to create a new military service that focuses exclusively on space.

The House’s version of the fiscal 2020 defense spending bill would provide $15 million for Space Force operations and maintenance, almost $57.5 million lower than the administration’s $72.5 million request, according to the committee report released Monday.

Taliban money and fighter jets at issue in Pentagon's $690 billion bill
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 110

U.S. Marine Corps F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters from Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. fly off the coast of Northwest Fla. May 15, 2013, off the coast of Northwest Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen/Released)

House appropriators this week will take up the biggest of the 12 annual spending bills, the $690 billion Pentagon measure that includes some prickly issues such as funding for Taliban expenses for peace talks with the U.S. and money to give the Pentagon more F-35 fighter jets than it requested, says CQ Roll Call's senior defense reporter John M. Donnelly. He lays out what is likely to happen to the measure that assumes higher spending levels for fiscal 2020.

Pentagon knew peace-talks fund would ‘likely’ benefit Taliban
Document suggests some money would give ‘material support to terrorists’

Aerial view of the Pentagon building photographed on Sept. 24, 2017. ( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Pentagon leaders formally asked Congress in writing earlier this year for a $30 million fund to support peace talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban, even though, the Defense Department officials wrote, it was “likely” some of the money would materially support terrorists.

The legislative proposal, obtained by CQ Roll Call, suggests that the fiscal 2020 money to cover logistics involved in the negotiations may directly or indirectly provide financial support to violent groups in Afghanistan that have been fighting Americans and their own countrymen, including in targeted attacks on civilians, for nearly 18 years.

Air Force secretary: send disaster money ASAP
Officials say it will cost nearly $10 billion to repair recent storm damage at military bases

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson testifies during a Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support hearing in Russell Building titled “United States Air Force Readiness,” on October 10, 2018. On Thurday Wilson said the Defense Department needs money to fix nearly $10 billion in damage to military bases.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Heather Wilson, the outgoing Air Force secretary, said Thursday that the Defense Department desperately needs Congress to quickly bankroll recovery from recent storm damage at military bases, which officials say will cost nearly $10 billion to fix.

Senate leaders are drafting a disaster aid supplemental bill that may contain a down payment in aid for Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. The House passed its own version last week with $1.5 billion to help military installations recover from hurricanes.

Administration wants to reimburse Taliban’s travel expenses
As if ‘life imitating The Onion’ according to one taxpayer advocate

Taliban members would be reimbursed for their travel to peace talks if the Trump administration gets its way. House appropriators are not enthusiastic about the plan. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

The Trump administration asked Congress earlier this year for funds to reimburse Afghanistan’s Taliban for expenses the insurgent group incurs attending peace talks, according to a spokesman for the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

The money would cover the Taliban’s costs for expenses such as transportation, lodging, food and supplies, said Kevin Spicer, spokesman for Indiana Democrat Peter J. Visclosky, in a statement for CQ Roll Call.

Sexual assaults in the military are on the rise. This bill would authorize Congress to intervene
The bill would allow Congress to intervene in some cases, but would not eliminate a 5-year statute of limitations.

Soldiers, officers and civilian employees attend the commencement ceremony for the U.S. Army’s annual observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in the Pentagon Center Courtyard March 31, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Congress could intervene in legal cases on behalf of military members who have been sexually assaulted under a new bill co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Rep. Brian Mast.

The Florida Republican in late April introduced “Harmony’s Law,” named after his constituent Harmony Allen, who was violently raped by an instructor just three months after joining in the U.S. Air Force in 2000.