Senate Opts Against Limiting Trump’s War Powers
Measure to cease most military actions in Yemen shot down

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, here at a rally at the Capitol last year, pushed a resolution to end most U.S. military operations in Yemen. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Amid a whirlwind day of White House news, President Donald Trump on Tuesday retained the expanded war powers he inherited from his post-9/11 predecessors, as the Senate shot down a measure that would have ordered him to cease most U.S. military operations in Yemen.

Trump scored a victory on behalf of the executive branch’s ability to launch and sustain military operations in new countries without first getting authorization from Congress. Amid pressure from Republican leaders, the White House and the Pentagon, the chamber killed a resolution, 55-44, offered by a bipartisan group of senators that would have required Trump to cease all U.S. military action against groups other than al-Qaida in Yemen.

Yemen Vote in Senate, Russia Meddling Add to U.S.-Saudi Summit Intrigue
Senate to vote on Yemen war measure while crown prince is on U.S. soil

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, says the chamber will vote on a resolution calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Yemen this week, the same time Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud will be in the United States. Saudi Arabia has increasingly found itself bogged down in the Yemeni civil war. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Russia’s actions in the Middle East and South Asia are among the most-pressing topics President Donald Trump wants to discuss with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud when they huddle Tuesday, and an upcoming vote in the Senate on Saudi Arabia’s neighbor Yemen could add to the agenda as well. 

Trump and Salman — who has rocketed up the leadership totem pole of Saudi Arabia’s royal family — are scheduled to meet at the White House for a mini-summit. A senior administration official told reporters Monday that along with Russia’s often double-dealing in the region, trying to “push” Saudi leaders to seek a serious political solution to the conflict in Yemen and combating Iran will be atop the agenda.

Amid Reports of McMaster Exit, White House Says Relationship With Trump Is ‘Good’
Could hawish John Bolton be the next national security adviser?

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, left, was announced as the new national security adviser by President Donald Trump in early 2017 at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. (Jenna Johnson/Washington Post/Print Pool file photo)

President Donald Trump might be ready to fire Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and bring in his third national security adviser after just 14 months in office — amid signals the president is poised to execute a West Wing purge.

While Trump’s spokeswoman on Thursday night tried to shoot down the notion that McMaster’s ouster is imminent, she did not directly deny it was in the works.

Even on North Korea, Trump Shifts Wildly
Pivot toward talks is latest example of an ever-shifting presidency

A congressional delegation led by Sen. James M. Inhofe visited the DMZ recently as President Trump again shifted, saying he will talk to North Korea. (Photo by Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)

After months of bluster and threats toward North Korea, President Donald Trump on Saturday announced his administration will hold talks with the Kim government about its nuclear arms and long-range missile programs.

Then-President Barack Obama told Trump before he was sworn in that North Korea would be the most-pressing global problem he would need solve during his term. Since, Trump has threatened to attack the North — even at times suggesting he would unleash America’s atomic arsenal to take out the North’s. His sudden pivot toward talks is just the latest example of how the 45th president’s policy stances often change suddenly.

The Other Memo Lawmakers Want the Public to See — But Trump Doesn’t
The White House has shrouded a seven-page memo outlining POTUS’ interpretation of war powers

Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., right, and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., conduct a news conference in the Capitol to introduce an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban in May 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Tim Kaine is demanding that the White House release a secret memo outlining President Donald Trump’s interpretation of his legal basis to wage war.

The Virginia Democrat, a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday requesting that he hand over the seven-page document drafted last spring.

Military Not Ready for the Next Larger War, Experts Say
Complaints about continuing resolutions feature in House Armed Services Committee testimony

National security experts expressed concern last week that the U.S. has fallen behind Russia and China in key areas of military preparedness. (Courtesy U.S. Department of Defense)

While the U.S. military is ready for another Iraq War or Syria-like intervention, it is unprepared to fight a war against bigger challengers such as China or Russia, national security experts told House lawmakers last week.

The Pentagon needs to shift its focus away from the smaller regional conflicts it has specialized in to fight terrorism, the experts said, and refocus itself, and U.S. allies, on these potential future wars with larger adversaries.

Trump Lectures Leaders At Davos — But With A Twist
In shift, U.S. president says he is willing to negotiate with Asian nations ‘as a group’

President Donald Trump delivers remarks Friday at a World Economic Forum conference in Davos, Switzerland. (Screen shot via www.weforum.org)

President Donald Trump used part of his address to world and corporate leaders in Davos to lecture them about “unfair” trade practices, saying his administration is trying to “reform the international trading system.”

But he also signaled a shift in thinking, saying he is willing to consider a massive Asia-U.S. trade pact.

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.

Podcast: Surveillance Is Back
CQ on Congress, Episode 87

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 10: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., arrives for a vote in the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress disregarded concerns about government surveillance of Americans and on Jan. 18 reauthorized a controversial anti-terrorism law. CQ cybersecurity editor Patrick Pexton explains how the security hawks beat the civil libertarians — energized by the 2013 revelations from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.


Omaha Man Pleads Guilty to Plotting to Kill Joni Ernst
Suspect believed Iowa Republican was connected to ISIS

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, was the target of a potential plot on her life last July. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An Omaha man pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to threatening the life of Sen. Joni Ernst, who he believed was in cahoots with Islamic State terrorists.

Robert W. Simet, 64, told employees at a motorcycle shop near the Nebraska-Iowa border last July that he might kill the Iowa Republican at a speech she was scheduled to deliver there, according to court documents obtained by The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.