Defense & Cyberspace

Trump chastises ally Lindsey Graham, teases Thursday ‘announcement’ on Iran
POTUS: ‘Ask Lindsey how did going into the Middle East, how did that work out?’

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., holds a press conference in the Capitol on March 25. He and President Trump are feuding over Iran. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday teased an “announcement” on Iran over its alleged missile strikes on Saudi oil facilities and chastised a leading Senate ally over the volatile matter.

Since the weekend attack took 6 percent of the world’s oil supply offline, the president has indicated his team sees Iran as responsible, tweeted that he has the U.S. military “locked and loaded,” but also said he does not want a shooting conflict with Tehran.

Trump taps State Department’s top hostage negotiator to replace Bolton as national security adviser
Robert C. O’Brien served under Bolton when he was U.N. ambassador

Robert C. O’Brien was sent by President Donald Trump to Sweden in August to try to negotiate the release of rapper A$AP Rocky, who had been arrested on assault charges. (Michael Campanella/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he has selected Robert C. O’Brien to replace John Bolton as national security adviser.

“I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!” Trump tweeted from California, where he is holding fundraising events.

As background checks talks stall, Trump casts Beto O’Rourke as scapegoat
POTUS: Candidate’s debate remark ‘Convinced many that Dems just want to take your guns away’

Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks during a town hall event in Alexandria, Va., in April. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If Washington fails to enact legislation to strengthen federal firearms background checks or otherwise deal with mass shootings, President Donald Trump suggests the blame will fall on a former House Democrat who wants his job.

With talks toward a measure that could pass a Democratic-controlled House and a GOP-run Senate showing no tangible signs of progress, Trump has vacillated from supporting beefed-up background checks to endorsing a amorphous plan focused on mental health issues he says is the root cause of mass gun massacres.

Senate panel wants probe into nuclear weapons glitches
Panel is concerned that problems might reflect fundamental oversight shortcomings that have broader implications

An Air Force F-16C carries a B61-12 bomb on a test flight at Nellis AFB, Nev. Problems with commercially manufactured electrical components have caused months of delays. (Staff Sgt. Brandi Hansen/U.S. Air Force photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee wants to order the Energy Department to launch an investigation into technical problems that have recently plagued U.S. nuclear weapons programs.

The committee’s mandate is buried deep inside the report accompanying the $48.9 billion Energy-Water spending bill that the committee approved on Sept. 12.

Esper brings China focus as Defense secretary
Plan to seek savings in Pentagon operations could face roadblocks

In search of savings, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper is looking at spending by organization that provide back-office services to the Pentagon. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Like every new Defense secretary, Mark T. Esper says he wants to make the Pentagon more efficient. He will get some results, but not many and not quickly, experts say.

Esper, now a few months into the job, wants to save money to spend it on preparing for war against China, and to a lesser extent Russia.

Health care riders, farm payouts slow stopgap deal
Bill pulled from House Rules agenda late Tuesday afternoon

Montana Sen. Jon Tester is among those objecting to potential provisions in a stopgap spending bill needed to keep the government open after Sept. 30. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Trade assistance for farmers hit by retaliatory tariffs and the details of several health care program extensions were standing in the way of agreement on a stopgap funding measure Tuesday, sources said.

According to a senior Democratic aide, the bill was likely to include an increase in the Commodity Credit Corporation’s $30 billion borrowing cap that the Trump administration asked for earlier this month. But provisions on “accountability and transparency” were still under discussion, the aide said.

Trump mocks Elizabeth Warren’s NYC crowd: ‘Anybody could do that’
Reports: Massachusetts senator drew ‘thousands’ in Washington Square Park

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., waves to the crowd as she arrives for a rally in Washington Square Park in New York on Monday. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump, who often touts the size of crowds at his events and knocks those of his foes, on Tuesday dismissed an audience Sen. Elizabeth Warren drew the night before in New York City.

Warren spoke in front of the iconic arch in the Big Apple’s Washington Square Park before an audience numbering in the “thousands,” according to estimates from local media outlets. But the president, who sent his first press secretary, Sean Spicer, out on his first full day on the job to make false statements about the size of Trump’s inauguration audience, contended he was not impressed with Warren’s crowd.

Watch out 2020 Democrats, Trump might have a long game
3 takeaways from the president’s New Mexico rally as he tries to flip state Clinton won in 2016

President Donald Trump on Monday night enters a campaign rally at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The rally marks President Trump's first trip to New Mexico as president and the start of a three-day campaign trip to New Mexico and California. (Cengiz Yar/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | Donald Trump’s rally Monday night in New Mexico was billed as an opportunity for the president to try expanding his base and flip a state he lost in 2016. But his message — again — offered little new to moderate swing voters.

Trump’s Rio Rancho campaign stop was calculated, with his campaign looking to flip a small handful of states won in 2016 by Hillary Clinton; she won New Mexico by 8.3 percentage points. It was the second state she won to which he has traveled to headline a rally this year; he was in New Hampshire last month. Collectively, there are nine Electoral College votes between the two states.

Trump stops short of saying Iran orchestrated attack on Saudi oil facilities
Bipartisan group wants to prohibit 'unconstitutional' U.S. war with Iran

President Donald Trump speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House in July. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump wants the world to believe Iran was behind a weekend attack on Saudi oil facilities that took 6 percent of the world’s supply offline — but he’s just not ready to say it out loud.

The U.S. commander in chief on two occasions Monday sent strong signals his national security team and Saudi officials are increasingly confident the Iranian government is responsible for the armed drone and missile strikes.

Why partisan spending allocations spell trouble for the appropriations process
CQ Budget, Episode 127

From left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sens. Todd Young, R-Ind., and John Thune, R-S.D., conduct a news conference after the Senate Policy Luncheons in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After months of delay, Senate appropriators finally got to work on their spending bills for the new fiscal year, which begins in just two weeks. But it was a slower start than lawmakers had hoped for, and unlike last year’s effort, it was deeply partisan. The Appropriations Committee approved its overall spending limits for each of its 12 bills, but it wasn’t pretty. Where do they go from here? Listen here.

Democrats object to Trump’s threatening Iran over Saudi oil attack
U.S. is ‘locked and loaded’ if Tehran believed to be behind strikes, president warns

President Donald Trump leaves after chairing a U.N. Security Council meeting last September. He will be back there, along with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, next week. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images file photo)

The United States should not take orders about using military force against Iran even if Saudi Arabia’s government declares Tehran was behind an attack on its oil facilities, congressional Democrats are telling President Donald Trump.

Trump signaled on Sunday evening and again on Monday morning that he is standing by for Saudi officials to sort out just what happened and who launched what U.S. officials said appeared to be armed drone and cruise missile strikes on the Saudi facilities. The attacks are expected to pare Saudi production and drive up oil and gas prices — but Democrats are concerned the incident might compel Trump to launch retaliatory strikes on Iran, which they say would be contrary to American interests.

Senate panel backs special $1 billion military ‘readiness’ fund
Some experts are skeptical that the Defense Department will spend the funds effectively.

The new military readiness fund in the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Defense spending bill would come with very few strings or stipulations attached. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images file photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s new Defense spending bill would create a $1.1 billion fund for yet-to-be-determined programs that build military “readiness,” a word that has come to mean just about anything in the Pentagon budget.

The fund, created at a time when military preparedness levels are on the rise after nearly two decades at war, would come with very few strings or stipulations, an unusual move for appropriators who typically guard their power of the purse.

List to replace fired national security adviser John Bolton grows to 15
Trump says he makes ‘all the decisions’ so senior advisers ‘don’t have to work’

President Donald Trump walks from the South Lawn to Marine One on his way to Joint Base Andrews in July 2018. He took the executive helicopter to a GOP retreat in Baltimore on Thursday evening. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There are now 15 candidates to replace John Bolton as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, but the president says it will not be Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

There was talk around Washington that the former Kansas GOP congressman — rumored to be eyeing a Senate run in his home state next year — might do both jobs after increasingly becoming Trump’s go-to counselor on foreign affairs and national security. But the president put an end to such speculation Thursday evening.

Senate spending bill would slash foreign military aid
Questions raised about how Pentagon is handling funds to train and equip Afghan and Iraqi forces fighting insurgencies

The Pentagon was unable to tell the Senate Appropriations Committee how many weapons purchased under one program had been ordered, received, or were in transit or lost. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee is proposing to cut more than $2 billion from U.S. military overseas aid programs largely due to mismanagement, according to documents obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Combined with cuts to previously appropriated funds, the potential reductions would affect programs to train and equip Afghan and Iraqi forces fighting insurgencies and another account to reimburse Pakistan for the same sort of efforts.

Draft stopgap would protect Ukraine aid, deny wall flexibility
Draft CR doesn’t grant administration request to use CBP funds to build sections of southern border wall outside of Rio Grande Valley Sector

North Carolina Highway 12 leading onto Hatteras Island is covered with sand after Hurricane Dorian hit the area on Sept. 6. The draft stopgap spending bill being circulated by Democrats would accommodate a White House request to speed up disaster relief spending for Dorian cleanup as other tropical disturbances still threaten. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The measure would also accommodate a White House request to allow an increased rate of disaster relief spending as cleanup from Hurricane Dorian continues and other tropical disturbances still threaten

House Democrats are circulating a draft stopgap spending bill to fund government agencies beyond the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year that would prevent the White House from blocking military assistance to Ukraine and money for a variety of foreign aid-related programs.