defense

Trump Counterterrorism Plan Drops Obama Climate Change Focus
White House buries strategy under Pence’s tough China address

National security adviser John Bolton rolled out a new counterterrorism plan Thursday. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump has approved a new U.S. counterterrorism strategy, but it drops the Obama administration’s treatment of climate change as a driver of violent Islamic extremist groups.

Asked if the Trump plan identifies climate change as a destabilizing force in the Middle East that fuels extremist groups, national security adviser John Bolton replied: “I don’t think climate change is a cause of international terrorism.”

Pence Accuses China of Trying to Upend ‘America’s Democracy’
Trump touts relationship with Xi, but has little to show for it

Vice President Mike Pence warned China to avoid meddling in "America's democracy" in a speech Thursday that likely will further chill relations with the Asian power. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Trump administration struck a hard line on China Thursday, with Vice President Mike Pence alleging that Russia’s meddling in U.S. elections “pales in comparison” to China’s ongoing actions.

The vice president accused the Chinese government of “employing a whole-of-government approach to advance its influence and benefit its interests.” He cited the conclusions of career U.S. intelligence officials as he said China is “employing this power in more proactive and coercive ways to interfere in the domestic policies and politics of the United States.”

Senate Eyes Passage of Bill to Check China in Asia-Pacific
Legislation would recommit to military sales to Taiwan

People’s Liberation Army soldiers drill in Hong  Kong earlier this year. The Senate is looking at legislation aimed at preventing China from becoming a hegemonic regional power. ( Anthony Kwan/Getty Images file photo)

The Senate is looking to pass in the coming weeks a bill that would guide U.S. strategy in the Asia-Pacific with an eye toward preventing China from becoming a hegemonic regional power.

The Senate Foreign Relations committee last week unanimously advanced a bipartisan bill from Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., who lead the Asia-Pacific Subcommittee. The measure would authorize more than $1.5 billion in new funds over the next five years for the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development and the Pentagon to maintain regional political support for the rules-based international order that the United States has championed over the last 70 years.

Laughing Matter: Trump’s Second Day at UN Is a Wild Ride
World leaders laugh at U.S. president. He later lashes out at Kavanaugh accuser

President Donald Trump attends a United Nations meeting on the global drug problem in New York on Monday. World leaders responded to his boasts about achievements Tuesday with several rounds of laughter. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

World leaders, in a stunning and awkward rebuke, laughed at President Donald Trump on Tuesday. He responded by lashing out at one of the women who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when both were in college.  

Trump began what was billed by his top aides as a major foreign policy address targeting Iran and setting the stage for new talks with North Korea by touting what he sees as top domestic accomplishments. The United Nations General Assembly hall in New York seemed a strange place for what has become a campaign-trail applause line in front of his “Make America Great Again” gear-sporting supporters. And the world leaders there to hear his message agreed.

Mixed Messages: Trump Offers Platitudes, Warnings on Iran at UN
President says Rouhani is a ‘lovely man’ and ‘sows death and destruction’

President Donald Trump addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. He spent much of Tuesday sending mixed signals to Iranian leaders. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s second day at a United Nations conference in New York began with mixed signals from the U.S. diplomat-in-chief on Iran — including platitudes and warnings.

Trump’s second address to the UN General Assembly featured plenty of vintage moments, with tough rhetoric for friends and foes alike. His message for North Korea was one of partnership a year after he declared its leader, Kim Jong Un, was on a “suicide mission.” He threatened to slash U.S. aid to many UN members and declared China’s trade practices will not be tolerated much longer.

Fiscal Year Ends With Unclear Path for Government Funding
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 79

The Capitol Dome. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

‘Fort Trump’: How Poland’s President Took Flattery to New Heights
U.S. president utters rare public criticism of Russia after months of GOP unease

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump with Polish President Andrzej Duda and his wife, Agata Kornhauser-Duda, on Tuesday in the Oval Office two hours before Duda proposed building a “Fort Trump” in his country. (Official White House Photo Joyce N. Boghosian via Flickr)

Trump Tower, Trump Hotel, Trump University, Trump ties ... Fort Trump?

Sure — if the president’s Polish counterpart gets his wish.

Obscure Pentagon Fund Nets $2B, Sets Pork Senses Tingling
Program prompts complaints of ‘jurassic pork’ as some see earmarks by another name

Where supporters see a way to bankroll innovate programs that the military may not even know it needs, critics see pork by another name. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Pentagon will soon have received about $2.3 billion in the last nine years — money the military never requested — for a special fund intended to help replace earmarks after Congress banned them, our analysis shows.

Buried deep inside the $674.4 billion Defense spending measure for fiscal 2019 that the Senate is expected to vote on this week is a chart with one line showing a $250 million appropriation for the Defense Rapid Innovation Fund, the latest installment of sizable funding for a largely unknown program that quietly disburses scores of contracts every year.

Members Find Billions Beneath Pentagon Couch Cushions
Vague explanations offered for cuts: ‘historical unobligated balances’ and ‘revised estimate’

From left, General Joseph Dunford, Jr., USMC Chairman of The Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and Under Secretary of Defense David Norquist take their seats for the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2019 on Thursday, April 26, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The authors of a new Defense spending conference report ran a victory lap last week to tout the billions of dollars they added to the U.S. military budget, but they hardly mentioned the cuts they had to make to pull that off.

Members generally prefer to tout the “winners” in their bills, not so much the “losers.” That habit can obscure the hard work appropriators and their staffs do to wring savings out of the Pentagon and intelligence agency budgets, even when the total funding is an epic $674.4 billion, as it will be in fiscal 2019. 

Spending Splurge
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 78

A little girl and a man look through the windows of the Capitol dome miniature model in the Capitol Visitors Center Monday afternoon Sept. 10, 2018. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

House and Senate lawmakers made a deal to give the Pentagon a huge spending boost and defy President Donald Trump's call to cut various health, education and labor programs. CQ Defense reporter John M. Donnelly and Health reporter Andrew Siddons unpack the mammoth spending package now making its way through Congress.

Show Notes: