THE TOPLINE: The Defense Department’s expensive F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet remained grounded for the fifth straight day on Tuesday.
The ongoing flight ban for the $400 billion program has jeopardized a pair of long-planned international events to showcase the jet.
Defense Secretary Chuck HagelChuck HagelLobbying World The US just attacked Syria. So where's Congress? Senators tear into Marines on nude photo scandal MORE will visit Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, where the incident occurred, as part of a two-day domestic tour, the Pentagon said.
On Capitol Hill, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee reacted with resignation to the program’s latest setback.
“I just want to keep it going,” said Sen. James InhofeJames InhofeTaiwan deserves to participate in United Nations Optimism rising for infrastructure deal Repeal of Obama drilling rule stalls in the Senate MORE (R-Okla.), the panel’s ranking member. “It’s too modern to fail.”
Sen. John McCainJohn McCainPoliticians absent from Thompson Reuters brunch McCain downplays threat of pre-emptive strike against North Korea McCain plan gains momentum amid North Korea threats MORE (R-Ariz.) labeled the program a “debacle.”
“It’s a classic example of the military-industrial-congressional complex,” he said
IRAQ FRUSTRATION. A bipartisan group of Senators criticized the White House for not having a clear-cut plan to defeat the terror group the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
The group has captured large swaths of the country in recent weeks. In response, President Obama has authorized sending roughly 800 troops into Iraq to advise government security forces.
“They have no strategy, nor could they articulate a strategy to counter what our intelligence estimates say will be a direct threat to the United States,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a sharp critic of the administration, told reporters.
However, Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillSeven key players for Trump on immigration Five takeaways from the Georgia special election Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups MORE (D-Mo.) said the White House has strategies to contain ISIS but it is being “appropriately cautious and careful because there is not a one-size-fits-all solution in the Middle East right now.”
SANDERS MEETS VA PICK. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersObama makes 0K for speech at A&E event: report Van Jones: Obama should do ‘poverty tour’ Sanders calls for renewed focus on fighting climate change MORE (I-Vt.) had his first meeting with the Obama administration’s pick to run the embattled Veterans Affairs Department on Tuesday.
The low-key meeting was the next step in what could turn out to be a contentious confirmation process for Robert McDonald, a former 33-year Procter & Gamble executive.
The two enjoyed less than two minutes of small talk before photographers and reporters were ushered out of the room before their meeting.
Prior to the meeting, Sanders gave a speech on the Senate floor where he once again urged lawmakers tasked with hammering out compromise legislation to overhaul the VA not to pay for the final measure with offsets.
Sanders said he recently met with his House counterpart, Veterans Affairs’ Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), and “we had a productive meeting before leaving” for the July 4 holiday.
“We’re working hard on it,” he said.
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