Defense & Cyberspace

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

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

House Members Plan Election Hacking Demonstration
Katko and Quigley have legislation to create a federally backed hacking competition

The House will host a voting system hacking demonstration next week.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two House members are planning to host a demonstration of a voting system hacking next week.

Republican Rep. John Katko of New York and Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois are leading the event on Wednesday, Sept. 26, which will feature the director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Computer Security and Society, J. Alex Halderman.

Trump Calls Spending Plan ‘Ridiculous’
President’s tweet raises doubts he’ll sign bill that would avert shutdown at end of month

President Donald Trump called the government spending package headed his way “ridiculous,” raising doubts about whether he’ll sign it. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump raised the odds of a government shutdown that lawmakers from both parties thought they had averted, calling a spending package headed his way to keep the federal lights on “ridiculous.”

“I want to know, where is the money for Border Security and the WALL in this ridiculous Spending Bill, and where will it come from after the Midterms?” Trump tweeted Thursday morning.

As Trump Waffles, House Republicans Confident They’ll Avert Shutdown
Still president, conservatives wary of GOP leaders’ government funding strategy

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, is confident there will not be a government shutdown despite President Donald Trump’s mixed signals on the matter. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans prepare a legislative strategy with President Donald Trump seemingly on board, only for the president to catch them off guard with a last-minute tweet suggesting his opposition to the plan.

That scenario has played out a few times this year as lawmakers debated immigration and appropriations bills. And it could realistically happen again next week as Congress plans to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown that Trump has already signaled he might force.

‘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.

Spending Vote Deal and No Brett Kavanaugh Markup Means Quick Senate Exit
Senators set to vote to fund government through at least Dec. 7

Reporters question Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., about the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process as he returns to his office from the Senate floor on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators made another quick exit from the Capitol on Tuesday.

The chamber was always going to be closed for business Wednesday, in observance of Yom Kippur, which begins at sundown Tuesday. But getting the next two-bill spending package done and ready for the House next week could easily move up the departure.

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.

Exchange Programs Aren’t Just for High Schoolers. Congressmen Do It Too
Nebraska and California congressmen trade views of their districts

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., left, visited Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., in his district in August. (Courtesy office of Rep. Salud Carbajal)

Say “exchange program,” and most people think of traveling teens.

That was true for Rep. Don Bacon, whose family hosted a German exchange student when he was 16. Mostly, the pair geeked out over American cars.

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:

Leahy Endorses Return of Spending Bill Earmarks
Doing so could allow for orderly, timely appropriations process, Vermont Democrat says

Remarks by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., on bringing back earmarks echo similar ones expressed by House Minority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee would like to bring earmarks back to the appropriations process, restoring a practice banned in 2011 after several years of scandals and negative publicity.

Vermont Sen. Patrick J. Leahy told C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” on Friday that there’s “no question” that once again allowing earmarks is one way lawmakers can have an orderly, timely process for annual appropriations bills.

Congress Again Blocks F-35 Transfers to Turkey
Turkish president rebuffed Trump request to release detained American pastor

President Donald Trump talks to Chairman, President and CEO of Lockheed Martin Marillyn Hewson, right, and Director and Chief Test Pilot Alan Norman in front of an F-35 fighter jet during the 2018 Made in America Product Showcase July 23, 2018 at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Congress is poised to pass legislation that will block the transfer of the F-35 stealth fighter to Turkey, a NATO ally that helps produce the jet, as Turkey moves forward with plans to purchase Russian-made missile defense systems and refuses to release a detained U.S. pastor.

A provision in the fiscal 2019 Defense spending bill would withhold any funds from being used to deliver the jets to Turkey until the secretaries of State and Defense send Congress a comprehensive report on the U.S.-Turkish military and diplomatic relationships. The provision essentially matches language in the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill, which became law earlier this year.    

Violence Against Women Act Extension Included in Stopgap Spending Deal
Programs authorized under law set to continue through Dec. 7

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., filed legislation earlier Thursday to extend the current Violence Against Women Act for six months. It is now being extended through Dec. 7 under a stopgap spending bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Violence Against Women Act, which was set to expire Sept. 30, will be extended through Dec. 7 under a stopgap spending bill released Thursday.

“Any program, authority or provision, including any pilot program, authorized under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 shall continue in effect through the date specified,” the bill text reads.

Watershed Moment as Three Appropriations Bills Clear on Time
House voted 377-20, sending legislation to the president’s desk

The U.S. Capitol building as seen on Friday, June 15, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A batch of three spending bills is on its way to President Donald Trump’s desk following a 377-20 House vote Thursday, marking the first on-time delivery of a quarter of the annual appropriations measures in a decade.

The $147.5 billion package — which funds the departments of Energy and Veterans Affairs, the Army Corps of Engineers and the operations of Congress — is the first installment of what lawmakers hope will be nine bills becoming law before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. 

NFL Security Chief Backs Bipartisan Drone Defense Bill
San Francisco 49ers event cited as example of situation that could have been worse

The NFL is backing legislation that would authorize the government to track and destroy drones in the name of enhanced security. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The National Football League’s top security official on Thursday backed bipartisan legislation that would authorize the federal government to track, seize and destroy drones considered a threat to large, public gatherings.

Cathy Lanier, the NFL’s senior vice president of security, described for the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee “a dramatic increase in the number of threats, incidents, and incursions by drones” at NFL stadiums, including an incident last year at Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, when a drone dropped leaflets near one of the end zones.