Afghanistan

Senate Busies Itself, Plus Chuck Norris and Some Cactus
The one-day work week is something we can all get behind

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks to the Senate floor on Thursday for the final vote of the week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our newsletter here.

The Senate convened around noon on Wednesday. The Senate adjourned around 4:33 p.m. on Thursday. Now THAT is a work week!

House GOP Appropriators Facing Steep Turnover in 116th Congress
Both parties have endured upheaval in wave elections in the past

Two senior House GOP appropriators,  John Culberson, R-Texas, left, and Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., personify the challenged facing the Appropriations panel heading into the 2018 midterms. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Democratic “wave” this November, should one materialize, could result in the departure of as many as five senior House Republican appropriators, which would mark the biggest wipeout of major players from one side of the dais in 26 years.

Three subcommittee “cardinals” are facing tough re-election fights this November: Commerce-Justice-Science Chairman John Culberson and Military Construction-VA Chairman John Carter, both of Texas, and Homeland Security Chairman Kevin Yoder of Kansas.

Army Veteran Wins Kansas GOP Nod for Jenkins Seat
Republican Steve Watkins will face off against Democrat Paul Davis in November

Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., is retiring after five terms in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated Aug. 8, 11:25 a.m. | An Afghanistan War veteran won the Republican nomination in Kansas’ 2nd District, which GOP Rep. Lynn Jenkins is vacating.

Democrats are targeting the eastern Kansas district, as well as the Kansas City-area 3rd District, where a mixed martial arts fighter beat out a Bernie Sanders-backed candidate in a crowded Democratic primary.

Army Seeks Money Shift as Long-Range Weapons Get Longer
Branch leans into Pentagon’s new National Defense Strategy with $46 million request

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

The Army has asked Congress to allow it to move $46 million in fiscal 2018 money to its efforts to improve its ability to hit targets at long range.

The money would be spent on a deep strike cannon artillery system, part of the Army’s plans to develop weapons that can strike accurately at far distances. Army planners project that future land battles will be fought at greater distances, beyond 70 kilometers of range for projectiles and hundreds of kilometers via surface-to-surface missiles.

4 Things to Watch in Tuesday’s Primaries
Voters in Michigan, Missouri, Kansas and Washington head to the polls

Besides the four states holding primaries Tuesday, the final House special election before November also takes place in Ohio’s 12th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Four states are hosting primaries Tuesday, which will decide the matchups in several contested House races and two Senate races.

Voters in Missouri, Kansas and Michigan will head to the polls, while Washington voters will head to their mailboxes, to choose nominees in a slew of competitive races. 

For New Veterans Affairs Chief, That Was the Easy Part
Robert Wilkie may have made it through the Senate, but the second-largest federal agency still has vacancies, other woes

Nominee Robert Wilkie is sworn in to testify in front of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee in the Dirksen Building on June 27. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

His confirmation Monday drew scrutiny and nine dissenters. Now Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie must face the real challenge: repairing the sprawling agency that serves the nation’s veterans, including 9 million who receive health care benefits through the department.

The second-largest federal agency is embarking on two major initiatives — a reorganization of its private medical care options and a $15.8 billion electronic health records project — at the same time that it seeks to fill key positions overseeing them.

Campus Conundrum: For Professors, Trump Requires ‘Constant Adaptation’
‘You teach differently,’ one prof says. ‘You just get creamed,’ notes another.

Protesters hold up illuminated letters spelling "treason" in front of the White House during a rally Wednesday following President Donald Trump’s much-maligned summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For Donald Trump, last week was perhaps the worst of his presidency. For some Republican lawmakers, his antics struck a nerve. And for political science professors, it will only make things tougher in the classroom.

The U.S. president started his rockiest week yet by referring to Vladimir Putin as a “good competitor,” appearing to agree with the Russian leader over his spy agencies on 2016 election meddling. Trump ended it by advising Putin to “make a deal” or else, warning he could quickly become the Russian strongman’s “worst enemy.”

Senate to Weigh Large Cuts to Military Aid
Cuts target foreign militaries and militias trained to fight terrorists on U.S. behalf

Iraqi Kurdish fighters, also known as peshmerga, are seen driving along the frontline in October 2017 outside the town of Altun Kubri, Iraq. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

The Senate will soon take up a Defense spending bill that would cut nearly $2.5 billion in military aid to foreign fighting forces, an unusually large budget subtraction some say reflects a fundamental change in lawmakers’ security priorities. 

At issue is the $675 billion fiscal 2019 Defense money bill, which Senate Appropriations approved late last month and which the chamber may take up later this month. 

McConnell Gets Personal Discussing Polio
Majority leader makes argument for disease eradication programs

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell discussed his own history with battling polio, as well as the value of U.S. polio eradication efforts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s main fight for the next few months will be to get President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee out of the Senate. But the same morning that the effort to confirm Brett Kavanaugh truly kicked off, the Kentucky Republican took time to discuss a more personal battle: his childhood struggle with polio.

Speaking at a conference on polio eradication at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, McConnell affirmed United States financial support for the effort to vaccinate children and track the few remaining cases worldwide.

Connecticut Democrat Switches Parties Because of Blumenthal’s Son
Said he was forced out of state House race by state party after senator’s son announced candidacy

Matt Blumenthal, the son of Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, is running for a seat in the Connecticut state legislature. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A Democratic candidate for Connecticut’s state legislature switched parties after he said the state party favored Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s son in the primary.

Anzelmo Graziosi told the Stamford Advocate that he filed to run for the House seat in February, but when Blumenthal’s son Matt Blumenthal announced he would run the following month, the state party stopped returning his calls.