Afghanistan

The Army’s Ryan McCarthy Pulls the Plug on Bad Acquisitions
“We’re not informed enough,” undersecretary says

Ryan McCarthy, the Army’s undersecretary since August, says his motto is “fail early, fail cheap.” (Courtesy Under Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy/Facebook)

There’s something different about the Army these days. In a word, it is humility.

The service does not have a flagship new weapon in the works, only minor modifications to existing systems. Its recent efforts to develop costly hardware have flopped. Its acquisition budget, relative to the Air Force and Navy, is expected to decline in the next decade. U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan now number in the thousands, not the scores of thousands.

Shutdown Effects Would Hit Agencies Differently
Some departments will have more employees at work than others

OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said Friday that a shutdown might not be as painful as in 2013. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Federal departments and agencies were gearing up for the possibility that a shutdown would actually take place, with Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney putting the odds at about 50-50 Friday morning.

The effects across the government would vary from agency to agency, in part because they have different levels of available funding and transfer authority, but Mulvaney said a partial shutdown starting Saturday would in some ways not resemble the one in 2013.

Trump: ‘Deep State’ DOJ ‘Must Finally Act’ Against Abedin, Comey
President begins new year with tweets attacking domestic, global foes

Long-time Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin is seen backstage before a Clinton campaign rally at North Carolina State University in November 2016. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

The Justice Department “must finally act” against a longtime senior aide to Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey, President Donald Trump tweeted, his latest fiery social media post to kick off 2018.

Trump and his team have an ambitious agenda for the new year, especially considering more than 400 House seats and 30 Senate seats are up for grabs in just 11 months. But the president on Tuesday focused his morning tweets at his domestic political and geopolitical foes.

Tax Bill Becomes Law as Trump Heads to Mar-a-Lago
President secures legislative win as he closes out 2017 at White House

President Donald Trump signed a tax overhaul and stopgap government funding bill into law on Friday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Donald Trump secured his first major legislative victory as president Friday, signing a sweeping Republican tax measure into law as he closed out a turbulent 2017 at the White House.

After a raucous celebration with Republican lawmakers Wednesday on the White House’s South Portico — during which senior GOP members lavished him with effusive praise — Trump opted to sign the bill in the Oval Office rather than hold another signing ceremony.

Trump Signs Stopgap to Avert Christmas Shutdown
President, lawmakers punt tough decisions into late January

Protesters, mostly federal workers, hold up signs at the Capitol in October 2013 urging Congress to end a government shutdown. Congress and President Donald Trump averted another one this week by agreeing on another short-term continuing resolution. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There will be no government shutdown on Christmas Day.

With just more than 12 hours to spare, President Donald Trump on Friday signed a four-week government funding bill into law. It sets up a potentially bruising battle between Republicans and Democrats over a slew of hot-button issues next month.

Trump Predicts He’ll Start Working With Democrats in 2018
On Tuesday, president said Dems ‘complain a lot’

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer makes a point to President Donald Trump in the Oval Office before leaving a White House meeting in September. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

Updated 2:30 p.m. | After scoring his first major legislative win without a single Democratic vote, President Donald Trump on Friday predicted Republicans and Democrats will begin working together “for the good of the country.”

And the first item the president, who has spent weeks criticizing Democratic lawmakers for opposing his tax plan and accusing them of favoring a government shutdown, sees the parties collaborating on is a massive package to upgrade the country’s infrastructure.

Pence Doesn’t Rule Out Sending More Troops to Afghanistan
‘Bureaucrats don’t win wars, soldiers do,’ VP says during surprise visit

U.S. Army soldiers walk away as a NATO helicopter flies overhead at Forward Operating Base Connelly in the Khogyani District in the eastern province of Nangarhar, Afghanistan. (WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Mike Pence is not ruling out sending more American troops to Afghanistan.

The vice president also defended the Trump administration’s strategy in the country, which has been criticized by Democratic lawmakers.

Bannon: Roy Moore Allegations Part of a ‘Setup’
Moore is facing allegations of sexual misconduct

Republican Senatorial candidate Roy Moore is welcomed to the stage by Steve Bannon as he introduces him during a campaign event Tuesday in Fairhope, Alabama. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Former White House adviser Steve Bannon returned to Alabama Tuesday night to support GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, and suggested allegations of sexual misconduct were part of a media conspiracy to discredit Moore. 

“This whole thing was a setup. This whole thing was weaponized,” Bannon said at a rally in Fairhope, Alabama. “You know that. Folks down here in Alabama know that”

Some in Congress Still Have a Taste for Pork
For a Republican majority searching for wins, there may be no better time to bring back earmarks

Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole says “there is plenty of sentiment” in the House for reviving earmarks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the year since Speaker Paul D. Ryan blocked his party’s effort to revive earmarks, a lot hasn’t happened.

There’s been no repeal of Obamacare and no border wall approval. Plans to fund the government are struggling to lift off.

An Old Saw’s New Twist: Death (of the Deficit Hawks) and Taxes
A few Republicans clinging to old party orthodoxy could doom Trump’s big win

Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney has said “a lot of this is a gimmick,” referring to the tax bill’s expiration dates for some of the lower rates. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

This apparent contradiction confronts Congress as it returns for a grueling month of legislating: The Republicans who run the Capitol, so many of whom came to Washington as avatars of fiscal responsibility, are going to spend the rest of the year working to make a worsening federal balance sheet look even worse.

December holds the potential for a productivity breakthrough, but it also threatens to end in embarrassing deadlock — which is why the clear consensus within the upper reaches of the congressional GOP is that it’s the right time to get comfortable with any feelings of hypocritical guilt.