Mac Thornberry

Road Ahead: House Ready for Recess. Senate? Not So Much
Defense authorization, more spending bills among the week's highlights

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy hopes to get the defense authorization wrapped up this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

This is the last week the House is in session before members depart for the August recess — expect senators to be grumbling about that.

But the House does have a fairly sizable legislative agenda before heading home through Labor Day. The highlighted legislation includes Republican-led efforts to expand and update health savings accounts and to roll back some of the taxes levied under the 2010 health care law.

Opinion: McCain’s Legacy of Stronger Military Reflected in Senate’s Landmark Defense Bill
This year’s NDAA could be a big win for military personnel and their families

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, left, hands the gavel to House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry before a National Defense Authorization Act conference meeting in October. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain has served on the committee for over three decades, helping it draft and pass dozens of National Defense Authorization Acts — some seemingly routine, others carrying historic significance.

This year’s NDAA, the annual policy bill for the Defense Department, has the potential to rank among the latter. Many provisions in the Senate version, drafted under McCain’s leadership, would have a positive long-term effect on military readiness, servicemember satisfaction and, crucially, the well-being of military families, who are often overlooked.

Before They Were Lawmakers: Unique Careers of Some Senators and Representatives
Undercover Capitol takes you inside the historic workplace — one video at a time

Past Trump Criticism Might Not Doom Martha Roby in Alabama
Congresswoman faces ex-Democrat Bobby Bright in GOP primary runoff

Alabama GOP Rep. Martha Roby is facing a primary runoff against her predecessor Bobby Bright next week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Eighteen months ago, it might’ve been a good bet that Alabama Rep. Martha Roby would lose her Republican primary. But ahead of next week’s GOP runoff for the 2nd District, she’s now favored to win.  

That’s due in part to an endorsement from President Donald Trump, help from allies, and a primary opponent who used to be a Democrat. 

The Other North Korean Threat: Chemical and Biological Weapons
Pentagon acknowledges armed forces are not ready

If North Korea were to attack with chemical and biological weapons, the Pentagon is not confident it is adequately prepared. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Now that the Singapore summit of President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un is in the rearview mirror, major questions remain, particularly about the part of North Korea’s doomsday arsenal that Pyongyang’s military is most likely to use in a war, one that can potentially kill millions of people, and one for which the U.S. military is woefully unprepared: chemical and biological arms.

Nuclear weapons will continue to be the top concern. But they are far from the only one. Specifically, U.S. forces in the region lack sufficient medical countermeasures, protective gear and technology to identify so-called chem-bio agents, Pentagon insiders say. And the troops are insufficiently trained, manned and equipped for such a fight, according to previously unreported Pentagon audits and Army officials. Only about 1 in 3 of the Army’s special units that deal with doomsday agents is fully prepared, the service confirmed.

Analysis: What Matters Most in the NDAA
Obscurities and omissions define this year’s defense authorization bill

In this year’s NDAA, House Armed Services Mac Thornberry has required cuts to agencies that handle logistics, human resources and services contracting. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The massive defense authorization bill approved by the House Armed Services panel early Thursday morning is a consequential measure — but not for the reasons most people think.

The $708.1 billion bill, which the House plans to debate the week of May 21, would endorse the largest budget for defense since World War II, adjusting for inflation and when war spending is taken out of the equation.

7 Lawmakers Who Opposed Iran Deal and Trump’s Decision to Withdraw From It
Democrats and Republicans worry about message move sends to allies and even North Korea

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., opposed the original Iran deal but also opposes President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from it. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal drew criticism from somewhat unexpected sources — lawmakers who opposed the deal then-President Barack Obama brokered in 2015. 

The following seven lawmakers are a sampling of those who stand by their opposition to the deal but believe walking away from it now is a bad move that sends a signal to other countries that the U.S. is not a reliable negotiating partner. Some worry about the impact Trump’s decision could have on upcoming negotiations with North Korea over its own nuclear arsenal. 

Trump Pulls Out of Iran Deal, Reimposes Sanctions
Calls current agreement decaying and rotten

President Donald Trump addresses the press before departing for Dallas, Texas where he would make an appearance at the National Rifle Association convention on May 4, 2018. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he would reimpose sanctions on Iran, dealing a likely fatal blow to the 2015 multinational nuclear deal and upsetting European countries, Democrats and even some Republicans.

But though Trump’s action is aimed at punishing Iran, it is anger from U.S. allies, especially France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, that could most affect the United States in the coming weeks and months.

Nuclear Weapons, Border Wall, Military Parade Among NDAA Issues
Trump’s priorities are driving unusually partisan debate on this year’s defense authorization act

President Donald Trump reviews border wall prototypes in San Diego in March. His priorities are driving much of the discussion around this year’s NDAA. (Evan Vucci/AP file photo)

The House Armed Services Committee will debate dozens of amendments to the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill during its marathon markup on Wednesday, when lawmakers could introduce a wide variety of proposals, such as authorizing the Pentagon to develop new nuclear weapons and allowing transgender troops to serve in the military.

The legislation, commonly referred to as the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, typically draws broad bipartisan support. But the markup is likely to include debate on some of the most controversial defense issues, including transgender troops, low-yield nuclear weapons and downsizing the Pentagon’s civilian workforce.

Mattis Lists Budget Priorities, Warns Against Another Stopgap
Another CR would hurt national security, almost everyone agrees at Tuesday hearing

Defense Secretary James Mattis says the National Defense Strategy and the Nuclear Posture Review were crafted on the “assumption that timely and efficient funding” would be delivered to the Pentagon. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Pentagon’s budget request for fiscal 2019 will ask Congress to fund a spate of new high-tech weaponry as well as more traditional military programs, Defense Secretary James Mattis told lawmakers Tuesday.

The proposal, which the Pentagon plans to send to Congress next week, will seek funds for space and cyber operations, nuclear deterrent forces, missile defense, advanced autonomous systems, artificial intelligence capabilities and professional military education.