Adam Smith

Political Foes Turned Podcasting Friends
Democrat Ali Lapp and Republican Liesl Hickey bring House race expertise to podcast

Democratic strategist Ali Lapp and and Republican strategist Liesl Hickey chat before recording an episode of their podcast “House Talk with Ali and Liesl” at the EMILY’s List office in Washington, D.C. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ali Lapp spent several hundred thousand dollars trying to defeat Rep. Mark S. Kirk in 2006. The Illinois Republican, whose office was led by Chief of Staff Liesl Hickey, held on.

Fast forward 10 years, and the two women met for the first time at Tonic, a bar in Washington’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood, for what they jokingly call their “blind date.”

Analysis: What Matters Most in the NDAA
Obscurities and omissions define this year’s defense authorization bill

In this year’s NDAA, House Armed Services Mac Thornberry has required cuts to agencies that handle logistics, human resources and services contracting. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The massive defense authorization bill approved by the House Armed Services panel early Thursday morning is a consequential measure — but not for the reasons most people think.

The $708.1 billion bill, which the House plans to debate the week of May 21, would endorse the largest budget for defense since World War II, adjusting for inflation and when war spending is taken out of the equation.

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.

Mulvaney Backlash May Drive Political Money Changes
Even lobbyists distanced their industry from remarks by the White House budget chief

Watchdog groups characterized Mick Mulvaney’s remarks as “brazen.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Advocates for tougher campaign finance regulations say comments from Mick Mulvaney seeming to describe a pay-to-play style of politics on Capitol Hill will boost their long-term effort to overhaul the rules and could benefit like-minded candidates in the midterm elections.

Mulvaney, the White House budget chief and acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, told a group of bankers Tuesday that when he served in Congress, his office refused meetings with lobbyists who did not provide political contributions. Mulvaney, a Republican, represented a South Carolina district from January 2011 to February 2017, when he became director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Controversy Swirls as Lawmakers Eye Campaign Finance Changes
Possible Johnson amendment repeal is among most-watched developments

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., concludes a news conference after the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on March 20, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers continue to debate major changes to political money regulations as part of a year-end spending package, despite opposition from numerous congressional Democrats and campaign finance watchdog groups.

Even with congressional primaries already underway, the proposals could play out in the November midterm elections if enacted, campaign finance experts on both sides of the debate say.

Abuse Charges, Military Parade Put White House on Defensive
Trump still has confidence in Staff Secretary Rob Porter despite ex-wives’ allegations

President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron attend the traditional Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees on July 14, 2017, in Paris. (Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images file photo)

The White House moved one step closer to achieving its goal of a two-year budget deal that increases military spending, but was dogged Wednesday by questions about a possible military parade through the streets of Washington and a senior adviser accused of multiple assaults on ex-wives.

As Senate Republican and Democratic leaders announced a spending deal that includes several White House priorities, senior aides in the West Wing spent much of the day holed up in meetings about allegations Staff Secretary Rob Porter punched and kicked — and otherwise abused — his two ex-wives.

Mattis Lists Budget Priorities, Warns Against Another Stopgap
Another CR would hurt national security, almost everyone agrees at Tuesday hearing

Defense Secretary James Mattis says the National Defense Strategy and the Nuclear Posture Review were crafted on the “assumption that timely and efficient funding” would be delivered to the Pentagon. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Pentagon’s budget request for fiscal 2019 will ask Congress to fund a spate of new high-tech weaponry as well as more traditional military programs, Defense Secretary James Mattis told lawmakers Tuesday.

The proposal, which the Pentagon plans to send to Congress next week, will seek funds for space and cyber operations, nuclear deterrent forces, missile defense, advanced autonomous systems, artificial intelligence capabilities and professional military education.

Congress Should Revise Base Closure Rules, Report Recommends
Heritage Foundation says lawmakers should authorize a new round

Congress should revise its rules on base closures, a new report from the Heritage Foundation recommends. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

Congress should revise the rules guiding base realignment and closure and authorize a new round, a new paper from a conservative think tank recommended.

Done properly, a round of base realignment and closure, or BRAC, is a good example of federal efficiency, wrote Frederico Bartels, an analyst with the Heritage Foundation.

House Appoints Defense Bill Negotiators As Space Corps Fight Looms
F-35 fighter jets will be another point of contention as the chambers confer

The Senate so vigorously opposes the Space Corps proposal that it adopted by unanimous consent an amendment — offered by Sens. Bill Nelson and Tom Cotton, shown here in 2016 — to the Senate NDAA that would block it. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

The House on Thursday agreed by unanimous consent to begin negotiations with the Senate on the fiscal 2018 Defense authorization bill. Throughout the coming weeks, a panel of conferees from each chamber will negotiate a final version of the legislation before Congress votes to send the bill to the president.

The House will send to the conference 46 Republicans and 27 Democrats. Eighteen Republicans and 13 Democrats will represent the Armed Services Committee in the negotiations.

Drama Awaits Senate Debate on Pentagon Policy
No lack of substantive, high-profile issues for defense authorization measure

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and ranking member Jack Reed, D-R.I., will manage a sprawling floor debate on the Pentagon policy bill starting this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate will take up the massive Pentagon policy bill this week, providing a stage for high-profile debate on simmering national security issues ranging from transgender troops to the growing North Korea nuclear threat.

Senators have already filed hundreds of amendments to the defense bill, among them language to allow transgender people to serve openly in the military, establish a North Korea strategy, limit arms sales to U.S. allies, define U.S. objectives in Afghanistan and block the creation of a new military service.