Afghanistan

Reps. Crenshaw, Gallagher, Waltz urge more GOP veterans to run for Congress
Republicans cite Democratic successes in 2018 midterms, and seek to recruit more veteran GOP candidates

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, and two other Republican House members are making a push to elect more GOP military veterans to Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Three Republican congressmen who served in the military are relaunching a PAC to help recruit more GOP veterans like themselves to run for Congress.

Reps. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin and Michael Waltz of Florida announced Wednesday they are forming the War Veterans Fund PAC this cycle, which aims to recruit Republican veterans of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to run in their home districts and assist them with funding.

Iran escalations bring war powers debates back to the Capitol
Sen. Tim Kaine expects debate behind closed doors at the Armed Services Committee

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jim Risch says President Donald Trump “doesn’t need any more authority than what he’s got” to respond to a potential attack. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)k

A Senate briefing by the Trump administration Tuesday about the escalation in tensions with Iran appears certain to kick off another round of sparring over the president’s war powers.

When asked last week whether President Donald Trump could strike Iran using existing authorities from the authorization for use of military force that was enacted after 9/11, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reflected on the history of disputes between the executive and legislative branches.

Senators ask Trump administration why the ‘American Taliban’ is getting out of prison early
John Walker Lindh has been on track for release on Thursday

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby wants to know why the “American Taliban” is in line for early release. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan team of senators is asking the Trump administration why the convicted terrorist who became known as the “American Taliban” is about to get early release from federal prison.

And the questions are coming in part from the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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.

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.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger throws hat into the ring for Air Force secretary
Kinzinger is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and a defense hawk

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., walks down the House steps of the Capitol following the final votes of the week on Thursday, May 10, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, once a frequent critic of President Donald Trump, said this weekend he would be honored to work under the commander-in-chief. 

Kinzinger, who serves in the Air National Guard, said if the president wanted him for the position of U.S. Secretary of the Air Force, he would consider the role. 

Texas Senate 2020: MJ Hegar challenges John Cornyn
Democrat raised more than $5 million in an unsuccessful House race in 2018

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is running for a fourth term next year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Air Force veteran MJ Hegar, who raised millions in an unsuccessful House race in 2018, announced Tuesday that she is taking on Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn.

The Democrat garnered national attention last cycle with a viral web video “Doors” highlighting her background as a combat veteran. She was injured in Afghanistan and later sued the Defense Department over the barring of women from certain positions. In a nearly four-minute video released Tuesday, Hegar once again introduced herself to Texans, recapping her 2018 spot.

Ky. Rep. says Ocasio-Cortez tweet is uncivil and puts coal mine tour in doubt
Rep. Andy Barr asked her to educate coal miners about the Green New Deal

Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., addressed a letter to the office of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about civility this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Kentucky congressman who invited Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to tour a coal mine in his district appeared to rescind the invitation this week after she tweeted a critique of fellow Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw.

Ocasio-Cortez acted uncivilly when she criticized Crenshaw, Rep. Andy Barr said Monday.

After bitter fight, defense budget will stay high
The hard-fought outcome is likely to be a bipartisan accord keeping defense spending at historically high levels

A Manned Ground Vehicle (MGV) chassis, an Abrams A1 tank, and a pair of Stryker Leader Followers during a demonstration of future combat systems (Scott Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump’s defense budget request is sparking partisan discord that will last for months, but the hard-fought outcome is likely to be a bipartisan accord to keep defense spending at its historically high level.

The conflict is real. A House controlled by Democrats will not easily swallow Trump’s proposal to slash spending on nondefense programs by 9 percent at the same time as he wants a nearly 5 percent increase in defense spending. Trump’s $750 billion request for the Pentagon and other defense accounts marks one of the biggest peacetime defense budgets since World War II, even adjusting for inflation.