Overnight Defense: Trump forcing GOP reckoning on Iran | Pelosi looks to limit president's use of nuclear weapons | House moves forward on defense bill talks

Overnight Defense: Trump forcing GOP reckoning on Iran | Pelosi looks to limit president's use of nuclear weapons | House moves forward on defense bill talks
© Getty

THE TOPLINE: Republicans in Congress will face a wrenching choice if President Trump follows through on decertifying the Iran nuclear deal.

Decertification would unlock a fast-track procedure for Congress to reimpose sanctions, leaving Republicans with two unappealing options.

Snap back the sanctions, and Iran likely walks, killing an agreement that top administration officials say is in the national interest. Do nothing, and the deal likely stands, preserving a pact that Republicans have lambasted for years.

For now, it appears that Republicans have little appetite for reviving the sanctions. Yet the pressure from hard-liners to act will be intense.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, signaled the GOP's likely approach on Wednesday. He said the U.S. should demand Iranian compliance with the agreement but also impose new sanctions for activities outside the scope of the deal.


"As flawed as the deal is, I believe we must now enforce the hell out of it," Royce said at the top of a hearing. "Let's work with allies to make certain that international inspectors have better access to possible nuclear sites, and we should address the fundamental sunset shortcoming, as our allies have recognized. This committee will do its part tomorrow by marking-up the Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act."

Trump faces a Sunday deadline to tell Congress whether Iran remains in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and whether the agreement remains in the national interest of the United States.

Read more here.


HOUSE MOVES FORWARD ON DEFENSE BILL: The House officially moved Thursday to reconcile its version of the annual defense policy bill with the Senate's, approving by unanimous consent a motion to go to conference.

The procedural move comes after the House passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in July and the Senate followed suit with its version in September.

Despite not formally going to conference yet, the so-called "Big Four" -- House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), that committee's ranking member Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithCongress, cut the continuing resolutions so Defense can do its job Week ahead: Lawmakers look to break deadlock on defense funding Pentagon eyeing West Coast missile defense sites: report MORE (D-Wash.), Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat Meghan McCain knocks Bannon: 'Who the hell are you' to criticize Romney? Dems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress MORE (R-Ariz.) and Senate committee ranking member Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Raymond ReedSenate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank Army leader on waiver report: 'There's been no change in standards' 15 Dems urge FEC to adopt new rules for online political ads MORE (D-R.I.) -- have met to discuss differences in the bills.

Thornberry has told reporters negotiators hope to resolve all major differences by the end of October, save the topline dollar amount. 

The Hill's Rebecca Kheel has more here.


PELOSI LOOKS TO LIMIT TRUMP ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is pressing Congress to bar the president from using nuclear weapons unless the United States is attacked first.

"I put this in the category of 'urgent,' " Pelosi said Thursday during a press briefing in the Capitol. "We each take an oath to protect and defend."

Pelosi said her promotion of the nuclear "first-use" concept has nothing to do with the volatility surrounding President Trump, whose saber-rattling with North Korea and threat to scrap a nuclear deal with Iran have raised plenty of concerns on both sides of the aisle.

Still, she characterized the 1946 law authorizing the president to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes as "ancient," calling on lawmakers from both parties to rally behind legislation reining in that unilateral power. 

Read the rest here. 


BIPARTISIAN LAWMAKERS INTRODUCE NEW WAR AUTHORIZATION: A bipartisan quartet of House lawmakers has unveiled a new proposal for a war authorization to cover the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the latest in years of attempts to update the aging authorization used now.

"The threats we face today are far different than those we faced over a decade ago, and this legislation reflects Congress's constitutional role in authorizing the use of military force against terrorist organizations," Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanHouse Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACA Poll: Voters in vulnerable GOP districts oppose tax bill Giffords targets 8 Republicans on conceal and carry in new ads MORE (R-Colo.) said in a statement Thursday.

Coffman introduced the new authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) with Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.).

The Trump administration relies on the 2001 AUMF passed in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, for legal authority to prosecute the war against ISIS, as did the Obama administration before it.

Read more here.



-- The Hill: New probe launched into deadly IED attack in Iraq

-- The Hill: US begins delivery of Black Hawks to Afghanistan

-- The Hill: Gorbachev pushes for Trump-Putin summit to save INF treaty

-- The Hill: Trump to appoint Lockheed executive to top Pentagon job

-- The Hill: Opposition mounts against bill to renew surveillance program

-- The Hill: Trump: Nielsen 'tremendously qualified' to lead Homeland Security

-- The Hill: 'White widow' jihadi killed by US drone: report

-- The Hill: Trump praises Pakistan for rescue of North American family


Please send tips and comments to Rebecca Kheel, rkheel@thehill.com, and Ellen Mitchell, emitchell@thehill.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @thehill@Rebecca_H_K@EllenMitchell23