Peter J Visclosky

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.

Navy brass gets grilling on defective ships, idle subs, other spending priorities
At a hearing with Navy leaders, Rep. Visclosky hinted he may rearrange the service’s budget plan to address concerns

Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., testifies before a House Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing in Rayburn Building on April 18, 2018. Visclosky hinted he may rearrange the Navy's budget plan to address concerns including warship defects and idle submarines. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Indiana Democrat Peter J. Visclosky, the son of an ironworker and an ardent shipbuilding advocate, is signaling that his first bill as chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense may not actually go so easy on the Navy.

The 18-term lawmaker has long championed construction of Navy ships, perhaps partly because so many of them are made with Indiana steel. But the longtime leader of the Congressional Steel Caucus is worried about warship defects and idle submarines, and he’s not pleased with a dearth of daycare at Navy bases.

Punishment for border wall money transfer could pinch Pentagon
Lawmakers want to remind the White House who holds the power of the purse

When domestic events strain Defense Department accounts, the Pentagon is used to moving money around. But now that the president is testing that time-honored flexibility, Congress is considering a change. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s controversial border wall could propel lawmakers to end a time-honored “gentleman’s agreement” that has allowed the Pentagon to shift billions of dollars around in its budget — a move that could hamstring the military’s ability to respond quickly to unforeseen events.

House Democrats are poised to retaliate against Trump’s decision to repurpose Defense Department funds to help pay for the wall along the southern border, and the Pentagon’s budget flexibility seems to be the target.

Spectrum auction could boot weather forecasting back to the 1970s, lawmakers warn
Appropriators call for delay of auction set for Thursday

The Federal Communications Commission, led by Ajit Pai, plans to go ahead with a spectrum auction aimed at securing American leadership in 5G. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senior House members, citing a potential threat to the safety of millions of people, urgently asked a federal agency Wednesday to delay an auction of radio frequency spectrum that is slated to occur Thursday.

If that spectrum is used for 5G wireless communications, as planned, it could interfere with government satellites’ ability to collect data in a nearby band — information on which accurate weather forecasts hinge, three House Appropriations subcommittee chairmen said in a letter obtained by Roll Call.

Congress could block big chunk of Trump’s emergency wall money
Full funds likely to be unavailable from the sources president has identified

More than a third of the money President Donald Trump wants to redirect from other federal programs to build a border barrier is likely to be unavailable from the sources he identified. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

More than one-third of the money President Donald Trump wants to redirect from other federal programs to build a border barrier is likely to be unavailable from the sources he has identified.

As a result, it may be difficult for the president to circumvent Congress, even if a resolution disapproving of his “emergency” moves is never enacted.

Former Rep. Ed Pastor Dies at Age 75
Was the first Hispanic member elected from Arizona and a longtime appropriator

Then-Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., speaks during a news conference to announce efforts to rename room HVC 215 after slain congressional staff member Gabe Zimmerman in July 2011. (Bill Clark/Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Ed Pastor, the first Hispanic from Arizona to serve in the U.S. House, has died. He was 75.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey called Pastor “an Arizona trailblazer and true public servant” in announcing his passing on Wednesday. The longtime Democratic member of the House Appropriations Committee served for more than two decades in the House. He succeeded Rep. Morris K. Udall, who had resigned his seat in 1991 while battling Parkinson’s disease.

Word on the Hill: Weekend Plans?
WOTH will be back mid-August

It's finally the weekend so get out of the Capitol — and the capital. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It’s the weekend in Washington and the Senate recess has finally arrived, so pick up a book from our summer reading list, or if you're feeling active, try to beat the number of steps that Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., takes in a day.

HOH went for a walk with the congressman recently and ran some errands around the complex with him.

House Passes $658 Billion Defense Spending Bill

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and colleague Barbara Lee, D-Calif. proposed an amendment that prohibits money being spent on uniforms for the Afghan National Army. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The House on Thursday passed the so-called security minibus appropriations package on a 235-192 vote, allocating nearly $790 billion across four separate spending bills, including $658 billion for defense.

The measure designates $584 billion in regular defense appropriations and $73.9 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations accounts.

On Lottery Day, These Are the House Offices Nobody Wants
Freshmen members get ready to slog back and forth to the Capitol

Numbered chips are placed in order before the start of the room lottery draw and selection for the incoming members of the 114th Congress in November 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)