Adam Smith

Controversy Swirls as Lawmakers Eye Campaign Finance Changes
Possible Johnson amendment repeal is among most-watched developments

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., concludes a news conference after the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on March 20, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers continue to debate major changes to political money regulations as part of a year-end spending package, despite opposition from numerous congressional Democrats and campaign finance watchdog groups.

Even with congressional primaries already underway, the proposals could play out in the November midterm elections if enacted, campaign finance experts on both sides of the debate say.

Abuse Charges, Military Parade Put White House on Defensive
Trump still has confidence in Staff Secretary Rob Porter despite ex-wives’ allegations

President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron attend the traditional Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees on July 14, 2017, in Paris. (Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images file photo)

The White House moved one step closer to achieving its goal of a two-year budget deal that increases military spending, but was dogged Wednesday by questions about a possible military parade through the streets of Washington and a senior adviser accused of multiple assaults on ex-wives.

As Senate Republican and Democratic leaders announced a spending deal that includes several White House priorities, senior aides in the West Wing spent much of the day holed up in meetings about allegations Staff Secretary Rob Porter punched and kicked — and otherwise abused — his two ex-wives.

Mattis Lists Budget Priorities, Warns Against Another Stopgap
Another CR would hurt national security, almost everyone agrees at Tuesday hearing

Defense Secretary James Mattis says the National Defense Strategy and the Nuclear Posture Review were crafted on the “assumption that timely and efficient funding” would be delivered to the Pentagon. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Pentagon’s budget request for fiscal 2019 will ask Congress to fund a spate of new high-tech weaponry as well as more traditional military programs, Defense Secretary James Mattis told lawmakers Tuesday.

The proposal, which the Pentagon plans to send to Congress next week, will seek funds for space and cyber operations, nuclear deterrent forces, missile defense, advanced autonomous systems, artificial intelligence capabilities and professional military education.

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.

House Appoints Defense Bill Negotiators As Space Corps Fight Looms
F-35 fighter jets will be another point of contention as the chambers confer

The Senate so vigorously opposes the Space Corps proposal that it adopted by unanimous consent an amendment — offered by Sens. Bill Nelson and Tom Cotton, shown here in 2016 — to the Senate NDAA that would block it. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

The House on Thursday agreed by unanimous consent to begin negotiations with the Senate on the fiscal 2018 Defense authorization bill. Throughout the coming weeks, a panel of conferees from each chamber will negotiate a final version of the legislation before Congress votes to send the bill to the president.

The House will send to the conference 46 Republicans and 27 Democrats. Eighteen Republicans and 13 Democrats will represent the Armed Services Committee in the negotiations.

Drama Awaits Senate Debate on Pentagon Policy
No lack of substantive, high-profile issues for defense authorization measure

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and ranking member Jack Reed, D-R.I., will manage a sprawling floor debate on the Pentagon policy bill starting this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate will take up the massive Pentagon policy bill this week, providing a stage for high-profile debate on simmering national security issues ranging from transgender troops to the growing North Korea nuclear threat.

Senators have already filed hundreds of amendments to the defense bill, among them language to allow transgender people to serve openly in the military, establish a North Korea strategy, limit arms sales to U.S. allies, define U.S. objectives in Afghanistan and block the creation of a new military service.

Trump’s Tweet on Transgender Service Members Roils Congress
McCain: Americans who serve should be treated as patriots

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain says no able service member should be forced to leave the military. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s announcement Wednesday morning on Twitter that he will bar transgender people from serving in the military brings to a boil a previously simmering congressional debate.

Critics of Trump’s proposal have already vowed to fight back hard, and the battle will be joined promptly. It will start in the next 24 hours or so during House debate on security spending legislation.

3 Things to Watch as Trump Heads to Poland, Germany
First one-on-one with Putin will headline G-20 summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin in October. The two will be among the G-20 leaders President Donald Trump will join for a summit Friday in Hamburg, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump landed in Warsaw, Poland, under the cover of darkness Wednesday but there will be no hiding from the spotlight during his two-day European visit that will include a much-anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump is slated to deliver what national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster described last week as a “major speech” to the Polish people on Thursday. A day later, the president will be in Hamburg, Germany, for a meeting of the leaders of 20 rich and developing countries.

Word on the Hill: The Game Must Go On
Taste of Hawaii huge success

Texas Rep. Joe L. Barton, left, the Republican’ baseball team manager, is accompanied to a meeting by Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Meehan after Barton spoke to reporters about the shooting Wednesday as his team practiced in Alexandria, Va. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After a gunman rattled Washington on Wednesday by opening fire at the Republicans’ morning baseball practice, coaches from the two teams with the backing of House Leaders Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., decided the 56th annual Congressional Baseball Game must go on.

Just a week earlier, HOH was at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Va., where the shooting took place. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., who was one of five people wounded in the shooting, shared his thoughts with us going into the game.

Trump’s ‘Total Authorization’ to Military Gives Some ‘Deep Concerns’
But GOP lawmakers say president remains involved in strategic decisions

President Donald Trump’s deference to military commanders to make “tactical decisions” has been partly attributed to his trust in Defense Secretary James Mattis. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump says he has given U.S. military commanders “total authorization” to make complex combat decisions, a move that alarms some senior Democratic members and national security experts.

The commander in chief revealed a major policy shift from the Obama administration, which was heavily involved in strategic and tactical decisions, on a late Thursday afternoon in mid-April. The news dominated the cable airwaves for a few hours, then was quickly overshadowed by self-inflicted wounds and eventually, an ever-escalating series of bombshells related to possible ties between Moscow and Trump’s campaign and transition teams.