OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: GOP strikes again on leaks

Earlier this month, McCain had introduced a non-binding Senate resolution that also called for a special counsel, rather than the two U.S. attorneys appointed by Holder who are currently running the investigation.

The letter, along with a press conference on the leaks held Tuesday, shows that Republicans in the Senate have no intention of dropping the leaks investigation or their criticism of how the Obama administration is handling it.

ADVERTISEMENT
“I can assure you I’m not going to let this go. What we do today sets a precedent for tomorrow,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, who spearheaded the letter to Holder. “I cannot believe this is good policy to allow an administration to basically investigate itself.”

McCain went one step further in suggesting that a congressional investigation into the leaks might be necessary — something that he pinned on Republicans winning back the Senate.

“This may rise to the level of a congressional investigation, and obviously that may have something to do with who’s in the majority in Congress,” McCain said at the press conference.

Democrats counter that the Republican calls for a special counsel are political ones. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who was lauded at the GOP press conference for her work on leaks, remains opposed to a special counsel.

McKeon meeting with Boehner: House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) has been among the most vocal House Republicans on the need to stop sequestration, and he’s taking his case to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday, his spokesman confirmed. McKeon’s meeting with the Speaker, first reported by National Journal, comes as McKeon is calling on Congress to delay the cuts to defense now, as he said last week that Congress was not “mature enough” to find a solution. “I just need to have his attention to get him focused on this and understand what the defense people are saying,” McKeon told National Journal in an interview.

Chairmen don’t want 3-month delay: Both the House and Senate Armed Services chairmen don’t think that a three-month delay for sequestration is a good idea. Bloomberg News reported Tuesday that congressional leaders were considering delaying the cuts, set to take effect Jan. 2, 2013, until March 2013. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said in an interview with National Journal that the delay would leave too little time after the inauguration. Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said it was “not the desirable approach.” “I think there’s a lot of other possibilities we ought to look at before that’s even considered,” he said.

More sequestration transparency: The House Budget Committee on Wednesday will mark up a bill aimed at forcing the Obama administration to issue a detailed report on the effects of the $109 billion automatic spending cuts set to take effect Jan. 2. The bill in Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) committee is similar to an amendment sponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) that was included in the 2012 farm bill, which passed the Senate last week. That bill has a reduced chance of passing anytime soon, however, given the slow pace at which the House is taking up a Farm Bill.

Nuclear history lesson: Ever wonder how the Department of Energy ended up sharing responsibility with the Pentagon for the most powerful weapons on the planet? Even if you haven't, defense lawmakers in the House are making sure those on Capitol Hill know the history behind the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Former NNSA chief Linton Brooks and former Principal Deputy Administrator Robert Kuckuck will serve as guides during Wednesday's hearing of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee, explaining the administration's roots in the Manhattan Project and into its modern-day role overseeing the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. Eugene Aloise, head of the natural resources and environment division at the Government Accountability Office, will fill in the green side of NNSA's past, present and possible future during Wednesday’s hearing. Given the pedigrees of these individuals, committee members and observers alike are in for a real education.

—Erik Wasson contributed.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

— U.S., Pakistan look to prevent cross-border attacks

— Graham: Defense firms should issue layoff notices now

— Ayotte: Defense cuts are ‘sleeper’ election issue

— McCain not satisfied with new leak measures

— GOP lawmaker wants Afghan adviser removed


Please send tips and comments to Jeremy Herb, jherb@thehill.com, and Carlo Munoz, cmunoz@thehill.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @DEFCONHill, @JHerbTheHill, @CMunozTheHill

You can sign up to receive this overnight update via email on The Hill’s homepage.