Vicky Hartzler

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.

Train Carrying GOP Lawmakers to Retreat Hits Truck
Reports: At least one dead, others injured

Emergency personnel work at the scene of a train crash involving a garbage truck in Crozet, Va., on Wednesday. An Amtrak passenger train carrying dozens of GOP lawmakers to a Republican retreat in West Virginia struck a garbage truck south of Charlottesville, Va. No lawmakers were believed injured. (Zack Wajsgrasu/The Daily Progress via AP)

Updated 2:51 p.m. | A train transporting Republican lawmakers to the GOP retreat in West Virginia was involved in an accident with a truck late Wednesday morning.

Representatives were seen attending to injured people from the truck, according to a source on the train. At least one person was reported dead. 

Correspondence With Congressional Offices ‘Through the Roof’
Offices get hundreds of calls each day, from drunk calls to ‘racist’ rants to threats

Interns struggle to wheel a 20,000-page tower of health care rules and regulations from the Capitol to the Russell Building in March 2013. Interns and staffers are struggling with an increased load of correspondence and calls from constituents, many of them angry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Trump to Tout Tax Overhaul in Missouri
Two main talking points focus on middle class

President Donald Trump arrives with Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., left, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for the Republican Senate Policy luncheon in the Capitol to discuss the tax reform bill on November 28, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump will “be a part of pushing this process forward” when he heads to St. Charles, Missouri, Wednesday to tout the tax overhaul package, two senior administration officials said Tuesday.

The officials told reporters on a conference call to expect a message similar to Trump’s August speech in Springfield, Missouri.

Word on the Hill: Valor in D.C.
A distinguished Nebraskan, and your social calendar for the week

Screen shot of “Valor” trailer. (Courtesy CW)

Pairing a look at life in the military with an exploration of the opioid crisis, CW’s “Valor” is coming to D.C.

The cast will be at the Milken Institute School of Public Health this evening for a screening for veterans, active duty members and reservists.

Word on the Hill: Scientist Turned Politician Takes the Stage
Things to do this weekend

California Rep. Jerry McNerney is a scientist turned congressman. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., wrapped up the week with some laughs in the service of science. 

Taking the stage at a science comedy night show at DC Improv on Thursday night, the congressman talked about his background and what it’s like to be a scientist in Congress. McNerney is a former wind-turbine engineer and holds a doctorate in mathematics.

Word on the Hill: ‘SNL’ Returns
Weekly recap

Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump impersonation was one of the big breakouts of “Saturday Night Live’s” 42nd season. (NBC.com)

Last season, “Saturday Night Live” brought Americans entertaining and hard-to-not-laugh-at impersonations of politicians before and after the 2016 election, especially those in President Donald Trump’s inner circle.

After a couple of Emmy awards and celebrations, a new season is here.

Word on the Hill: Get Cultured in Rayburn
Yappy hour, and honoring the Mooch

A preview of the artwork from Asian-American artists on display in Rayburn today. (Courtesy Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation)

There are three different opportunities today to check out Asian-American artists and history in the Rayburn House Office Building.

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is hosting an art exhibit “War and Refuge: Reflections on the Vietnamese Refugee Experience and Its Applicability to the Global Migration Crisis” from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the building’s foyer. The foundation works to educate people about the ideology, history, and legacy of communism in order to create “a world free from the false hope of communism.”

Trump’s Tweet on Transgender Service Members Roils Congress
McCain: Americans who serve should be treated as patriots

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain says no able service member should be forced to leave the military. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s announcement Wednesday morning on Twitter that he will bar transgender people from serving in the military brings to a boil a previously simmering congressional debate.

Critics of Trump’s proposal have already vowed to fight back hard, and the battle will be joined promptly. It will start in the next 24 hours or so during House debate on security spending legislation.

War Waste in the Crosshairs

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., said members were eager to see that further waste such as was revealed in a recent Pentagon audit was not repeated.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three top U.S. auditors briefed a House Armed Services panel Tuesday on discomfiting reports of uncontrolled spending in Iraq and Afghanistan. The reports had all been posted online earlier this year. But the effect of presenting them in a single hearing was striking.

First, the Defense Department had spent as much as $28 million since 2008 buying “unnecessary, untested and costly” uniforms for Afghan security forces, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko told the Oversight and Investigations panel.