rhode island

Inhofe, Reed draw on professional, personal relationship in defense policy debate
Oklahoman Republican, Rhode Island Democrat find common ground

Senate Armed Services Chairman James M. Inhofe, left, and ranking member Jack Reed have brought the fiscal 2020 defense authorization to the Senate floor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Maybe the annual Pentagon policy bill would have been popular regardless, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that the two members shepherding it on the Senate floor this week, Republican James M. Inhofe and Democrat Jack Reed, work together well as leaders of the Armed Services Committee and enjoy a genuinely deep friendship.

“I don’t think there’s two closer friends than Jack Reed and myself,” said Inhofe, the panel’s chairman.

With Iran reversal, did Trump break pledge to never ‘telegraph’ military ops?
‘He basically called them up and told them what he was going to do,’ military expert says

Navy Lt. Rob Morris watches as an F/A-18F Super Hornet lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea on May 30. The Lincoln strike group is in the Middle East amid tensions with Iran. (Photo by Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Amber Smalley)

Iran’s military got a glimpse of how President Donald Trump would attack their country despite his years-old pledge never to “telegraph” U.S. military operations to an enemy.

My administration will not telegraph exact military plans to the enemy,” then-candidate Donald Trump said on Aug. 15, 2016 — less than three months before he was elected president.

Democrats respond with relief to Trump calling off Iran attack
The reaction was mixed, with some renewing objections to military engagement without prior congressional approval

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., leaves the Senate Democrats' policy lunch onOct. 10, 2018. Udall and Tim Kaine, D-Va., have been leading an effort to attach an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would require Congress to vote to authorize the use of force before the administration can take military action against Iran. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic response varied Friday to President Donald Trump saying he called off an airstrike against Iran at the last minute, with some renewing their objections to military engagement with Iran without prior congressional approval and others approving of the pull back.

Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., have been leading an effort to attach an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would require Congress to vote to authorize the use of force before the administration could take military action against Iran.

Photos of the Week: Biden in DC, Trudeau at the Capitol and victory for the Bad News Babes
The week of June 17 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Democratic candidate Joe Biden speaks during the Poor People’s Moral Action Congress forum for presidential candidates at Trinity Washington University on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

This week, Hope Hicks testified behind closed doors, the Canadian prime minister visited the Capitol Building to collect on his bet with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Bad News Babes won the annual Congressional Softball Game.

All that and more below. Here’s the entire week in photos:

Schumer pushes for vote to make clear Trump needs congressional approval for Iran War
Democrats returning from a White House meeting on the same page about limitations of current authorizations

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is pushing for a floor vote to say that any military action against Iran requires congressional approval (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Returning to Capitol Hill after a meeting at the White House about the shooting down of an American drone, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer increased the pressure for a floor vote to make clear that authorization would be needed for military action against Iran.

The New York Democrat highlighted an amendment that has been filed to the fiscal 2020 defense policy bill led by Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Tim Kaine, D-Va. The Senate is expected to proceed to the Pentagon legislation Monday evening.

James Inhofe and the art of the bipartisan joke
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 78

Senate Armed Services Chairman James M. Inhofe and ranking member Jack Reed have a warm relationship that enables them to move bipartisan legislation, something Inhofe discusses in the latest Political Theater podcast. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. James M. Inhofe is one conservative guy, and he is proud of it, trumpeting vote-tracking organizations that peg him as the most right-wing in the chamber. And yet, the Oklahoma Republican has an equally proud history of working with some of his most liberal colleagues on bipartisan legislation. 

As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he and Rhode Island’s Jack Reed, the panel’s ranking Democrat, constructed the highly popular defense authorization bill the last two years. And before that, he worked quite productively with California Democrat Barbara Boxer, the yin to Inhofe’s yang on environmental issues, as leaders of the Environment and Public Works Committee. This, despite Inhofe writing a book that claimed global warming was, as the title attested, “The Greatest Hoax.” And yet, “We prided ourselves in getting things done,” he says. 

Trump’s pick to lead the Pentagon brings military experience and political savvy to his new job
A former Raytheon lobbyist, Esper has also been an Army officer and congressional staffer

Sen. Jack Reed, left, speaks with Army Secretary Mark Esper before the start of an Armed Services hearing in March. President Donald Trump on Tuesday tapped Esper to be acting Defense secretary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Mark Esper has been an Army officer, congressional staffer and corporate lobbyist. Now the Army secretary is the third person President Donald Trump has tapped to lead the Pentagon, at least temporarily.

In two tweets Tuesday afternoon, Trump announced that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan was out after six months on the job — and was withdrawing from consideration for the permanent post to “devote more time to his family.” Esper, in turn, got promoted and a ringing endorsement from the commander in chief.

Acting Defense Secretary Shanahan gives up post, withdraws name from nomination
Shanahan was to succeed Mattis, who had differences with President Trump

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has stepped down, and Army Secretary Mark Esper will succeed him. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has given up his post and withdrawn his nomination to take the job permanently, President Donald Trump tweeted, announcing yet another Cabinet change.

Army Secretary Mark Esper will be the new acting Pentagon boss, Trump said. Shanahan, a former defense industry executive, replaced retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis when he stepped down, citing differences with Trump.

Is the census ready for its online debut?
Census Bureau says it’s prepared for security threats, but watchdogs raise doubts

The prospect of an external attack has driven the Census Bureau to lean on the Department of Homeland Security. Above, workers attend a training session in Houston in February 2016. (Scott Dalton/Houston Census Office)

Next year the federal government will launch its largest public-facing online portal in years, for an undertaking facing risks ranging from foreign cyberattacks to collapsing under its own weight: the 2020 census.

For the first time, the census will rely on online responses, one of a slew of technological upgrades by the Census Bureau that also includes computerized address verification. Those changes have watchdogs worried, despite assurances by the bureau that it will be ready when the census is rolled out in Alaska starting in January. 

‘My way or the highway’: An approach to the NDAA debate
There are nearly 400 amendments filed to the bill, which has become law the past 58 years

Chairman James Inhofe, left, and ranking member Sen. Jack Reed are seen during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Inhofe will manage the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill starting as soon as Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is expected to debate the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill this week, but it may be a debate in name only.

In the past six years, the Senate has approved scores of amendments to the mammoth Pentagon policy bill, known as the NDAA — short for National Defense Authorization Act. But almost all of them have been of the unobjectionable variety, approved by unanimous consent as part of huge packages of similarly uncontroversial proposals.