Defense & Cyberspace

Senate Flexes Congress’ War Powers Authority, For First Time Ever
Resolution would end military assistance to Saudi Arabia over war in Yemen

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., was one of the sponsors of the resolution to pull U.S. support of the Saudis in Yemen. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate on Thursday ordered the Pentagon to cease its military involvement on behalf of Saudi Arabia in the Yemeni civil war. It marked the first time since the 1973 passage of the War Powers Act that the Senate has ordered the executive branch to end an unauthorized military campaign.

The Senate passed, 56-41, the joint resolution, as amended, that would direct the president to remove U.S. armed forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen, except forces engaged in operations directed at Al Qaeda or associated forces, within 30 days of the joint resolution’s adoption of the joint resolution, unless and until a declaration of war or specific authorization of such use of force has been enacted.

Pelosi Calls Trump’s Oval Office an ‘Evidence-Free Zone’
President’s argument that Mexico will pay for border wall through trade deal ‘doesn’t make any sense,’ she says

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says President Donald Trump’s assertion that Mexico will pay for a border wall through savings from a revised trade agreement “doesn't make any sense.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After publicly confronting President Donald Trump at the White House two days ago about his frequent citing of false information, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday continued to question his grasp of facts. 

“I think the Oval Office is an evidence free zone,” the California Democrat said. “You’ve got to have facts, data, evidence, truth in order to make an agreement on how you go forward.”

Congress Headed Down Road to Shutdown Nowhere, Top Senate GOP Appropriator Says
Alabama’s Richard Shelby says he thinks a shutdown is all but inevitable

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., speaks with reporters in the Senate subway on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A partial government shutdown is all but inevitable, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee said Thursday.

“It looks like we could be headed down the road to nowhere,” Sen. Richard C. Shelby said. “That’s what it looks like at the moment because we’ve got nine days to go.”

Senate Armed Services Chairman Inhofe Ditches Defense Stocks Under Pressure
Oklahoma Republican’s personal finances handled by third-party adviser, office says

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has divested from defense contractor Raytheon after a news organization approached him about his recent investment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Armed Services Chairman James Inhofe has ditched a stock purchase in one of the Pentagon’s leading defense contractors amid pressure from a news organization that was preparing a report on the connection between his official duties and personal finances.

Inhofe’s office distanced the senator from his personal finances, saying in a statement that all of his financial transactions are handled by a third-party adviser.

Senate Establishes Precedent for Debating War Power Authority
Procedural vote sets ground rules for future debates over U.S. military intervention

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., was presiding over the Senate for the war powers debate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate has figured out how it wants to debate efforts to stop U.S. military intervention overseas.

Senators found themselves in an unprecedented, but not unexpected, parliamentary situation Wednesday afternoon, faced with language in the statute of the War Powers Resolution that gave them no direction as to the terms under which amendments could be considered.

FBI Details Intelligence Staffer Probe Ahead of Sentencing
Sentencing hearing for James Wolfe scheduled on Dec. 20

James Wolfe, a former Senate Intelligence Committee aide, leaves the FBI’s Washington Field Office after being booked on June 11. A sentencing hearing for Wolfe is scheduled for Dec. 20.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The FBI faced a dilemma and had to take “extraordinary” actions when it realized in 2017 that the former director of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee appeared compromised in his role safeguarding information and had a clandestine relationship with a national security journalist.

Had James Wolfe been an executive branch employee, the FBI would have notified intelligence agencies if a Top Secret clearance holder was compromised so they could protect national security, federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing Tuesday.

Trump Fumbled Claim of Capturing 10 Terrorists
The actual statistic is more nuanced than the president suggested

A recent State Department report showed no terrorist threat on the Mexico border. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

There is no public evidence to substantiate President Donald Trump’s claim on Tuesday, in the context of a discussion of security at the southern border, that 10 terrorists have been caught recently trying to enter the United States.

Trump’s comments sparked a small tempest on social media, but a recent State Department report showed no terrorist threat on the Mexico border, and Trump’s own administration effectively acknowledges the president may have mischaracterized the statistic.

Senators’ Yemen Vote Is Precursor to Debate on Saudi Relations
Corker eyes nonbinding resolution to condemn kingdom over Khashoggi murder

With the Senate expected to vote Wednesday on a resolution aimed at the Yemen war, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker wants to ensure any amendments offered are germane. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is expected Wednesday to debate and vote on a resolution that would order an end to military involvement in the war in Yemen, one of several measures that lawmakers are considering to punish Saudi Arabia.

But Wednesday’s discussion may be shortened due to scant floor time and several competing high-priority legislative items that, unlike the Yemen resolution, could still become law before the year is over.

Senators Urge No Prison Time for Intelligence Committee Aide Who Lied to FBI
Prosecutors, on other hand, recommend two years in prison for James Wolfe

Senators urged leniency for former Senate Intelligence Committee James Wolfe, who lied to the FBI. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

While federal prosecutors on Tuesday recommended a two-year prison sentence for James Wolfe, a former director of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee who pleaded guilty in October to a charge he lied to the FBI about his contacts with journalists, his former bosses urged the judge to show mercy. 

A letter to the judge from current committee Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina, top Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia, and former chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California urged no prison time for Wolfe, who was director of security for nearly three decades.

3 Takeaways From Trump’s Made-For-TV Oval Office Border Brawl
“You get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you,” Pelosi says

President Donald Trump argues about border security with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as Vice President Mike Pence sits nearby, silent, in the Oval Office on Tuesday. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | Vice President Mike Pence looked taken aback, barely moving and saying nothing as President Donald Trump and the top Democratic congressional leaders bickered and moved the country — with each insult and barb — closer to a partial holiday season government shutdown.

The former Indiana congressman’s statuesque performance was a contrast to the kinetic scene unfolding around him, another made-for-television moment that allowed the bombastic Republican president to pick a fight with the two Democrats perhaps most reviled by his conservative base on live cable TV.

Trump Hedges on $5 Billion for Border Wall on Day of Meeting With Schumer, Pelosi
President hints at military construction of barrier, which could be problematic legally

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Just before a scheduled meeting with Democratic leaders on border security funding, President Donald Trump appeared to soften his demand for $5 billion in construction funds for his southern border wall proposal.

in a series of tweets, the president sought to build a case that portions of fencing and levee wall already built or in the works on his watch have successfully increased border security to a degree, even without the money he wants. And in a subsequent tweet, Trump foreshadows “some important announcements” in his administration’s trade talks with China; if true, any positive headlines of those talks could be drowned out by an ugly partial government shutdown that Trump likely would be blamed for.

Top Oversight Democrat Wants Hearing on Trump ‘Wasting’ DHS Funds
Agency paid consulting firm nearly $14 million to hire two border patrol agents

Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly has called for a public hearing on the Trump administration’s reported wasteful spending on border security. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The second-highest ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is calling for a public hearing on the Trump administration’s reported wasteful spending on border security.

The inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security found that a staffing plan green-lighted by the president has been marred by wasted resources and overlapping responsibilities among employees and contractors.

Ahead of Meeting With Democratic Leaders, Trump Repeats False Wall Claim
President to meet with Schumer and Pelosi to talk border wall funding

President Donald Trump said Democrats have resisted border security for political reasons and because they have been “pulled so far left.” (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump, just hours ahead of a key meeting on the issue with Democratic leaders, made an impassioned plea for his southern border wall — and repeated another partially false claim.

The commander in chief claimed that “large Caravans that WERE forming and heading to our Country” have ceased in Central America because of “our newly built Walls, makeshift Walls & Fences, or Border Patrol Officers & Military.”

Budget Scuffle Stalls ‘Blue Water’ Benefits for Vietnam Vets
Science, costs concern for GOP holdouts; Dems yell hypocrisy

Senate Veterans Affairs Chairman Johnny Isakson remains bullish the Senate can pass the measure to make more Vietnam era veterans eligible for treatment for exposure to Agent Orange. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators and veterans groups are working to convince a few last holdouts to stop blocking a quick floor vote on a bill to extend benefits for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

Advocates are lobbying President Donald Trump to sign the bill if the Senate clears it. But Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah has questions about whether science backs up the policy. And Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming is concerned about its nearly $2.2 billion cost over a decade.

Shutdown Fears Abound, Despite Temporary Reprieve
Another deadline looming in appropriations standoff

Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Chairwoman Susan Collins, R-Maine, says Transportation-HUD measure not among the “problem child” spending bills. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional aides on both sides of the aisle say they don’t see how the appropriations impasse ends without a partial government shutdown just in time for Christmas Eve.

President Donald Trump signed a continuing resolution into law Friday that would change the expiration date of the stopgap measure enacted before the midterm elections to Dec. 21. But he wasted little time in taking aim at Democratic leaders for “playing political games” on border security funding, even as he prepares to sit down with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York in the Oval Office Tuesday.