Adam Smith

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.

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.

House Panel Plans Bipartisan Push Against Trump on Syria
Mac Thornberry, Adam Smith on same page as leaders of Armed Services

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, is working with Adam Smith, the panel's top Democrat, to push back on President Donald Trump's plan to withdraw from Syria. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans and Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee say they are launching an unusual bipartisan campaign to push back against President Donald Trump’s proposed withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Syria.

Texas Republican Mac Thornberry, the committee’s chairman, and Washington Democrat Adam Smith, the ranking member and likely the new chairman in the next Congress, said in separate interviews Thursday that they will join forces to try to slow or shape, if not stop, the president’s move. It was their first public comments on the issue.

In Oversight Role, House Democrats Aim for Both Check and Balance
Investigating the president carries risks for incoming House majority

Incoming House Oversight ranking member Elijah E. Cummings envisions a two-pronged approach to investigating President Donald Trump — focusing on his personal business dealings, including whether they implicate the president’s campaign in colluding with Russia, and probing the “harm” he says Trump has inflicted on the foundations of American democracy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings has seen the headlines. The 12-term Maryland Democrat, who in January will take control of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, knows he has the power to become President Donald Trump’s worst nightmare. For now, he’s taking a more measured approach.

“A nightmare has to be in the eyes of the beholder,” Cummings said in a recent interview. “If a nightmare comes with me doing my job that I’m sworn to do, so be it.”

House, Senate Democrats Identify Slate of Committee Leaders for New Congress
House Dem Caucus must still ratify, Senate is ready to go

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., has his roster of ranking members for committees ready. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional Democrats have identified their incoming committee leadership for the 116th Congress, although the full caucus must still weigh in and a few key chairs will have to wait until the House speakership contest is settled. In the Senate meanwhile, the roster is finished, with some notable movement in the smaller Democratic minority. 

The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee made its recommendations for most committee chairmanships in the new Congress on Tuesday evening, with a few others designated Monday. The full caucus must still approve the choices.

Trump Loves Space Force. Can He Convince Skeptical Lawmakers?
Congressional authorization required to create new service branch

President Donald Trump wants to create a “Space Force” to defend vulnerable U.S. satellites. (Matt Stroshane/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump may typically communicate via quickly fired, unfiltered tweets, but when he talks about creating a Space Force to defend vulnerable U.S. satellites and other extraterrestrial interests, his language becomes uncharacteristically poetic.

“The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers,” he said in June as he instructed the Defense Department to create this new force. “But our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security — important for our military, so important.”

Pentagon Will Miss John McCain, Its Friend and Foe
Arizona Republican brought unique background to oversight role

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., brought a unique and formidable background to his oversight of the Defense Department and its contractors and allies. (Bill Clark/Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS | To the Pentagon, its contractors and allies on the congressional defense committees — the so-called iron triangle — John McCain could be either the U.S. military’s strongest proponent or its harshest critic.

It is clear to the members of the triangle that they will miss the friend they had in the hawkish McCain. They may not fully appreciate, however, how much they will miss the enemy, too.

Brennan Fracas Could Rip Through Senate’s Defense Spending Debate
Security clearances, abortion among amendment topics floated

Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner, here with Chairman Richard Burr, says he plans to introduce an amendment to the 2019 defense spending bill that would block the president from revoking security clearances. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is ready to start voting on amendments to the fiscal 2019 Defense spending bill, possibly including several that could stir spirited debate.

Senators have only agreed so far to vote on two relatively uncontroversial amendments to the the two-bill package that includes both the $675 billion Defense bill and the $179.3 billion Labor-HHS-Education measure. Those first two votes are scheduled for Monday evening.

GOP Congress Tries to Rein In Trump on Foreign Policy
From the Koreas to Russia, president’s own party works to pre-empt him on multiple fronts

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un participate in a June 11 signing ceremony in Singapore. While Trump wants to reduce the presence of U.S. troops in South Korea, the NDAA conference report would limit how easily he could bring home all but a fraction of American troops stationed on the peninsula. (Evan Vucci/AP file photo)

The Republican-led Congress is increasingly writing and occasionally passing legislation to prevent President Donald Trump from taking what members believe would be ill-advised actions abroad.

The bills are few in number so far, and mostly subtle in effect. But they show how even members of Trump’s own party are restive about the commander in chief’s intentions and want to pre-empt him on multiple fronts.

NDAA Races Through Congress at Historic Pace
Only twice in the last 33 years has the defense authorization wrapped before Oct. 1

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, credits the two-year budget deal for this year’s speedy adoption of the defense authorization bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Advancing a defense authorization bill was as painless this year as it has been in decades, according to the people who wrote the measure.

The House adopted the fiscal 2019 NDAA conference report in a lopsided 359-54 vote on Thursday just before that chamber’s members left town for the August recess.