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Which of These Bills Is Not Like the Others? The Defense Budget
Testy and balky debate, like this year, still has ended with authorization for 57 straight years

Two U.S. army Blackhawk helicopters approach for landing at an airfield in Australia during a joint U.S. and Australian training exercise in July. (Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images File Photo)

For the uninitiated, it might have seemed last week like the annual legislation authorizing the nation’s military was about to come off the rails. And only now does it appear to be clamoring out of some thick mud — yet another example of a Congress so challenged when it comes to discharging even its most fundamental responsibilities.

Rest assured, though: There’s truly nothing more certain in the Capitol’s life cycle than enactment of the annual National Defense Authorization Act.

Word on the Hill: POW/MIA Recognition Day
Bottomless rosé wines, and the future of health care

Arizona Sen. John McCain was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for five and a half years. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Today is National POW/MIA Recognition Day, which honors missing service members and their families.

Currently in Congress, there are two lawmakers who endured time as prisoners of war during the Vietnam War: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas.

McCain, Kerry, Hagel Co-Star at Burns’ ‘Vietnam’ Screening
Clips from new 18-hour documentary shown at the Kennedy Center

From left, former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, “The Vietnam War” co-director Lynn Novick, Sen. John McCain, “The Vietnam War” co-director Ken Burns, Anne Finucane and Brian Moynihan of Bank of America, and former Secretary of State John Kerry pose for a photo Tuesday night at the screening of Burns’ and Novick’s epic Vietnam War documentary. (Courtesy Bank of America)

Public servants who lived through the Vietnam War attended the Washington screening Tuesday of the upcoming PBS documentary on the conflict by filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. 

Before the preview screening of “The Vietnam War,” Burns asked Vietnam veterans in the Kennedy Center auditorium to stand up. Dozens did. After the crowd applauded the veterans, Burns asked people who protested the war at the time to stand up.

Bipartisan Push for Electoral Security Gets Priority Status
Amendment has support of Schumer, GOP national security leaders

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar wants to make voting security part of the debate on the defense policy bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 9:24 p.m. | A bipartisan effort to enhance election security is among the priorities for Senate Democrats as part of the debate on the annual defense authorization measure.

“The consensus of 17 U.S. Intelligence agencies was that Russia, a foreign adversary, interfered in our elections. Make no mistake: Their success in 2016 will encourage them to try again,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Tuesday. “We have state elections in a couple of months and the 2018 election is a little more than a year away. We must improve our defenses now to ensure we’re prepared.”

Moulton Raises $600,000 for Veteran Candidates He Endorsed
Massachusetts Democrat says Congress needs the ‘fresh perspective’ that his fellow veterans bring

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., is backing 11 fellow military veterans in their bids to unseat Republican members in 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton raised $600,000 for the Democratic candidates he endorsed in his attempt to recruit more veterans to run for Congress.

The announcement came after a forum at Harvard University, Moulton’s alma mater, with four of the candidates he has endorsed: Dan Feehan in Minnesota’s 1st District, Roger Dean Huffstelter in Virginia’s 5th District, Amy McGrath in Kentucky’s 6th District, and Mikie Sherrill in New Jersey’s 11th District.

Opinion: A Veteran Takes on a House Incumbent — and Other N.C. Political Tales
One candidate is ‘REPUBLICAN & SMART, WHITE, TRADITIONAL’

North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger has carved out a special public space for himself with a series of startling statements, Curtis writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Purplish-red North Carolina is hard to figure out. That may be why national eyes tend to watch local, state and federal races for clues of political trends, particularly whether or not the Donald Trump phenomenon is fading. Or perhaps it’s just the state’s unpredictability and the entertainment value of its outsize personalities who make news, even when they wish they had not.

Take the long-shot candidate in Charlotte’s upcoming mayoral primary. While it’s pretty certain that city council member Kenny Smith will be representing the Republicans in the November election against one of the Democrats fighting it out, one GOP candidate, Kimberley Paige Barnette, earned a rebuke from her state party when, on social media, she listed her qualifications as being “REPUBLICAN & SMART, WHITE, TRADITIONAL.” In a race that has drawn national money and will probably still turn out an embarrassingly low number of voters, it managed to be a lowlight.

Trump to Lift Ban on Military Gear for Local Police Agencies

A BAE Caiman MRAP acquired by the Summit County Sheriffs Office in Northeast Ohio. (Raymond Wambsgans/CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Trump administration will lift a two-year-old ban on police departments across the United States getting surplus military equipment as part of an overall effort to support local law enforcement agencies.

“I am here to announce that President Trump is issuing an executive order that will make it easier to protect yourselves and your communities,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions told police officers Monday, according to prepared remarks.

Opinion: A Big-Spending Liberal Is a Conservative Who Has Been Flooded
Hurricane Harvey challenges Republican party

President Ronald Reagan once described the nine most terrifying words in the English language as, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ronald Reagan began a 1986 press conference by trotting out one of his favorite lines: “I’ve always felt the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’”

That sentiment succinctly summarizes the conservative philosophy that has governed the Republican Party since the 1980s — all federal spending is suspect unless it goes to the Pentagon. And it helps explain why in early 2013 virtually every Republican in the Texas congressional delegation voted against the $51-billion emergency aid package after Hurricane Sandy devastated New York and New Jersey.

At the Races: As Goes Maine, So Goes ...
2nd District race heats up, Collins nears gubernatorial position

There are plenty of Democrats lining up to challenge Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine. But he, along with Sen. Susan Collins, is considering a run for the governor’s mansion.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Maine’s political world faces a possible reshuffle, especially if the two Republicans in its congressional delegation run for governor there. Across the country, meanwhile, a House member running for governor in New Mexico is crying foul about campaign cash maneuvers. 

State House Assistant Majority Leader Jared Golden, a Marine veteran, announced his candidacy for Maine’s 2nd District in Lewiston’s Kennedy Park on Thursday.

Democrats Score Marine Veteran to Challenge Poliquin
Jared Golden is a lifelong Mainer

Democrat Jared Golden is taking on two-term GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin in Maine’s 2nd District. (Courtesy Jared Golden campaign.)

Democrats have landed a top recruit in a rural Maine district where candidate profiles matter — even more so than most places.

State House Assistant Majority Leader Jared Golden, a Marine veteran, announced his candidacy for the 2nd District in Lewiston’s Kennedy Park Thursday morning.