Adam Smith

As NDAA talks drag on, Inhofe readies pared-down bill
Negotiators have largely stayed mum on unresolved conference issues

Senate Armed Services Chairman James M. Inhofe, left, and ranking member Sen. Jack Reed before the start of a confirmation hearing on July 31, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Pentagon caught in a political fight over impeachment inquiry
Defense officials have rejected congressional demands for information on withholding of Ukraine aid

The Pentagon is a key player in House Democrats' impeachment inquiry into Trump's dealings with Ukraine. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — Rather than stay out of the fray, the Defense Department has taken sides in a bitter and historic partisan brawl, choosing to fortify President Donald Trump’s stonewall rather than cooperate with Congress.

The Pentagon is a key player in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. And defense officials, who have until now been largely unscathed by the investigation, have rejected congressional demands for information about their role in the White House decision to withhold $250 million in military aid to Ukraine.

Thornberry retirement latest shakeup on House Armed Services Committee
Former chairman is sixth Republican to announce plans to retire from the committee

Thornberry, a Texas Republican who spent two terms as Armed Services chairman before becoming ranking member after Democrats won control of the House, has been an ardent backer of higher Pentagon spending levels and a reliable hawk on policy matters ranging from the size of the Navy fleet to the nuclear arsenal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Mac Thornberry on Monday became the sixth Republican on the House Armed Services Committee to announce plans to retire at the end of this Congress, creating openings for ambitious younger members but also leaving a significant dearth of experience on the powerful panel.

Thornberry, a Texas Republican who spent two terms as Armed Services chairman before becoming ranking member after Democrats won control of the House, has been an ardent backer of higher Pentagon spending levels and a reliable hawk on policy matters ranging from the size of the Navy fleet to the nuclear arsenal.

Senate Democrats to try blocking Trump’s border wall diversion again
Shifting of $3.6 billion in military construction funds reignites effort to force a termination vote

"This vote will also provide a chance for Senators to prevent the president from stealing military funding from their states to foot the bill for an expensive and ineffective wall he promised Mexico would pay for, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is poised to say on the Senate floor. (File photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer will announce that his caucus will force another floor vote to terminate President Donald Trump’s border security national emergency.

“This rises to a large and vital constitutional issue: does our country truly have checks and balances, particularly important when we have such an overreaching president? This vote will also provide a chance for Senators to prevent the president from stealing military funding from their states to foot the bill for an expensive and ineffective wall he promised Mexico would pay for,” the New York Democrat will say on the Senate floor, according to an excerpt provided to CQ Roll Call.

Border emergency hits six months; ball back in Congress’ court
Lawmakers may again try to terminate Trump's declaration allowing him to shift funds for wall construction

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats appear in February at a news conference on the joint resolution to terminate Trump's emergency declaration. It is not clear whether they will try again to pass a similar measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Thursday marks six months since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on the southern border, a notable anniversary because it gives Congress another shot at ending it.

The flashpoint in the debate remains funding for the construction of a wall along the Mexican border, a prominent pledge made during Trump’s 2016 presidential bid that now hangs over the 2020 campaign.

Blue Origin files protest in controversial rocket competition
The rocket manufacturer protested Monday, saying the contract solicitation the Air Force issued in the spring is unfair

Jeff Bezos, owner of Blue Origin, speaks about outer space before unveiling a new lunar landing module called Blue Moon, during an event at the Washington Convention Center, May 9, 2019 in Washington. Blue Origin filed a complaint Monday, saying the contract solicitation the Air Force issued in the spring is unfair. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

In a move that will reverberate in Congress, a top U.S. rocket manufacturer formally protested on Monday the terms of a multi-billion-dollar Air Force competition for launching America’s future national security satellites.

Blue Origin of Washington state, one of four likely bidders for the work, filed its protest with the Government Accountability Office, citing concerns that the contract solicitation the Air Force issued in the spring is unfair.

House demands to see Trump’s cyberwarfare directive
But senators who oversee the Pentagon are not as concerned

Rep. Jim Langevin chairs the Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities. He’s part of a bipartisan group asking the Trump administration to share its secret cyberwarfare directive. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

A small but significant quarrel is emerging between a bipartisan team of lawmakers in the House and the Trump administration over how the Pentagon is going about using its newly minted authority to strike back against adversaries in cyberspace.

Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Armed Services Committee and its emerging threats subcommittee — in a rare instance of bipartisan pushback against the White House — have repeatedly asked administration officials for a still-secret memo issued by President Donald Trump that lifted earlier restrictions on U.S. Cyber Command’s operations against adversaries.

House approves NDAA with no Republican votes
Progressive amendments helped Dems earn votes from the party’s more dovish members in the face of Republican opposition

Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., talks with ranking member Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, right, before a House Armed Services Committee markup in Rayburn Building on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House on Friday approved its defense authorization bill after adopting a slew of progressive amendments that helped Democrats earn votes from the party’s more dovish members in the face of Republican opposition.

The final vote on the fiscal 2020 bill was 220-197. No Republicans supported the typically bipartisan measure that traditionally has earned more than 300 of the 435 available House votes.

House votes Friday on war powers and border amendments
Republicans and progressives alike voiced deep reservations this week about the typically bipartisan measure

Friday's votes include an amendment from Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., that would repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House soldiered on through hundreds of amendments to the annual defense policy bill Thursday, but major issues — including authorization to use force and military involvement on the southern border — remain unresolved, as does the ultimate fate of the bill.

Lawmakers plan to vote on some of the most controversial amendments, as well as final passage of the measure Friday morning. Republicans and progressives alike voiced deep reservations this week about the typically bipartisan measure, and it is unclear that the last two days of debate assuaged their concerns.

Republicans signal opposition to defense bill as floor debate kicks off
Amendments approved Wednesday included one to prohibit Pentagon from naming new DoD assets after confederate leaders or Civil War victories

“There is virtually no opportunity to improve the bill,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, ranking member on the Armed Services Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House will continue its debate Thursday on the more than 300 remaining amendments offered to a wide-ranging defense policy bill, after adopting more than 100 noncontroversial amendments Wednesday.

Powerful Republicans signaled their displeasure with the typically bipartisan defense authorization bill, and with the amendments Democrats allowed for floor debate.