Mac Thornberry

Drums of looming Iran war resound in Congress
As NDAA debate begins, McConnell urges colleagues ‘to keep these deadly serious developments at the top of our minds’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged colleagues to keep Iran developments at the top of their minds. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is launching a debate on its annual defense authorization bill this week amid the specter of war with Iran.

It is not clear to what extent possible U.S. military strikes on Iran will play a role in debate on the $750 billion measure or, for that matter, in a separate vote this week on blocking U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Iran’s arch foe.

Air Force halts deliveries of Boeing tankers for second time
The planes were refused after Boeing failed to resolve issues with tools and parts being left in plane compartments

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson walks through the Capitol Senate subway stop on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Air Force is again refusing to accept Boeing’s KC-46 Pegasus tankers after the company failed to resolve issues with tools and parts erroneously left in the plane’s compartments, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told lawmakers Tuesday.

The tankers, based on a 767 commercial jet, are the latest problem for the domestic aerospace giant, which has been under intense scrutiny since the recent fatal crashes of two 737-Max planes.

White House readies lean budget with fat nondefense cuts
Democrats have already rejected plan that even some Republicans say is unrealistic

Copies of President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget run through the binding process at the Government Publishing Office in Washington on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

BY PAUL M. KRAWZAK AND DAVID LERMAN

President Donald Trump will send a budget request to Capitol Hill on Monday seeking to eliminate deficits in 15 years, relying on rosy economic growth forecasts to boost revenue and tight limits on nondefense appropriations to counterbalance hefty increases for the military and his signature border wall project.

U.S. commander warns of risks from Trump’s troop withdrawal
Votel’s testimony clashes with recent remarks by the president, who has celebrated the complete defeat of the Islamic State

Army Gen. Joseph Votel says the Islamic State remains a dangerous threat and that the president’s plan to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan could be risky. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The U.S. commander in the Middle East warned lawmakers Thursday about the risks of President Donald Trump’s plans to withdraw American forces from Syria and Afghanistan.

The Islamic State terrorist group is down to less than one square mile of territory in Iraq and Syria, but the group has made a “calculated decision” to lay low and remains a dangerous threat, Army Gen. Joseph Votel told the House Armed Services Committee.

The insiders: Roll Call’s people to watch in 2019
Some in Congress and the administration will wield power or influence quietly

Four key Hill players from both parties made Roll Call’s list of people to watch in 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The third year of Donald Trump’s presidency promises to be a time like no other in American history. Never before have both the legitimacy and the competency of the president been so vigorously challenged, and the questions will increase exponentially as House Democrats and the special counsel probe deeper.

So it is no surprise that most of Roll Call’s People to Watch in 2019 revolve around the world of Trump.

Parties are swapping war positions in Trump era
Plenty of members of both parties are deviating from the new script — and the battle lines are still taking shape

President Donald Trump, flanked from left by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. John Thune, R-S. Dak., Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stops to speak to the cameras following his lunch with Senate Republicans in the Capitol on Wed. Jan. 9, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — Under the presidency of Donald Trump, America’s political parties have scrambled their traditional positions on war and peace.

The GOP has spent the bulk of the last 17 years arguing in favor of launching and then continuing overseas wars. But now some Republicans in Washington — and most Republicans in the country at large — back Trump’s plan to withdraw most U.S. troops from far-flung battlefields.

Lots of questions, but few answers at hearing on troops’ border deployment
First House Armed Services Committee hearing probes rationale, effects of active duty mission

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., used his first Armed Services Committee hearing as chairman to probe the Pentagon's deployment of active-duty troops to the southern border. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The first House Armed Services hearing of the new Congress, an examination of the deployment of thousands of troops to America’s southern border, did not answer fundamental questions about the mission, now in its third month.

Most lawmakers neglected to adequately press defense officials on the contentious deployment on Tuesday, and Pentagon witnesses were unable or unwilling to answer many of the questions they got.

Raiding military budget for wall would contradict previous Trump administration statements
Mulvaney complained last year of key military projects being underfunded

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter flies over a piece of border fence on Nov. 7 in Mission, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images file photo)

If President Donald Trump uses emergency powers to tap the military’s construction budget to bankroll a border wall, it would contradict his administration’s previous statements that the so-called milcon programs need more money, not less.

While the president signed into law last September legislation that allocated about $8.1 billion for military construction projects in fiscal 2019, that figure was nearly $800 million less than Trump proposed. And it was almost $1.5 billion less than the military services had wanted at that time.

At border, Homeland Security Department stats paint complex situation
White House says crisis is brewing, but apprehensions have declined, assets slowly built up

The Border Patrol has increased its assets along the southern border over the last 20 years, and crossings have declined. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump has spent much of his time in office making assertions about the southern border as he seeks to evoke a sense of crisis about an influx of illegal immigrants, possible terrorists, rapists and all manner of criminals who will threaten the safety of the American people.

That’s the same script he drew from Tuesday night as he addressed the nation from the Oval Office.

Analysis: Get Used to Trump Tumult in U.S. National Security
Mattis resignation and troop withdrawals only the beginning

President Donald Trump confers with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford (right) during a meeting with military leaders in the Cabinet Room in October. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

Updated 12/26/18 | This week was a stormy one for American national security. But it is likely to be only a taste of things to come.

The disclosure that President Donald Trump plans to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops from Syria and possibly also Afghanistan, followed by Defense Secretary James Mattis’ resignation in protest of those moves and more, jangled nerves in Washington.