Overnight Defense: GOP chair blames Dems for defense budget holdup | FDA, Pentagon to speed approval of battlefield drugs | Mattis calls North Korea situation 'sobering'

Overnight Defense: GOP chair blames Dems for defense budget holdup | FDA, Pentagon to speed approval of battlefield drugs | Mattis calls North Korea situation 'sobering'
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THE TOPLINE: House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryCongress must act to restore the integrity of American elections Defense bill moves forward with lawmakers thinking about McCain Defense bill amendments target Trump's military parade MORE (R-Texas) on Tuesday blamed Democrat lawmakers for failing to pass a defense budget in favor of "political games."

Thornberry insinuated Democrats are not interesting in crafting a replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Instead, he said, they are looking to use a potential DACA deal and the threat of a government shutdown as leverage.

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"I am increasingly concerned, for example, on the DACA deal, that some people may not want to resolve the issue," Thornberry told reporters in Washington.

"They may rather have the issue out there because they think it's to their political advantage ... they still say expressly they're not going to vote for military funding until DACA is resolved, but they may not want to resolve DACA because they're getting political benefit out of it."

Thornberry's comments follow those of President TrumpDonald John TrumpCEO of American investment firm believed Michael Cohen could bring in GOP donors for deals: report NAACP slams NFL for gag rule on national anthem Pelosi: Republican meeting over informant will 'nix' possibility of bipartisan briefing MORE, who said Sunday on Twitter that DACA is "probably dead because the Democrats don't really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military."

Read more here. 

 

MATTIS: NORTH KOREA SITUATION 'SOBERING': Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Doubts grow over Trump, Kim summit | Lawmakers want floor debate on war measure | New cell phone policy at Pentagon Hillicon Valley: Trump claims 'no deal' to help Chinese company ZTE | Congress briefed on election cyber threats | Mueller mystery - Where's indictment for DNC hack? | Zuckerberg faces tough questions in Europe Pentagon unveils new policy restricting some cellphone use MORE on Tuesday called the current tensions with North Korea "sobering," but said that a meeting of nations in Vancouver, Canada, would continue to press for a diplomatic solution to denuclearize the nation.

"The situation we face, I would call it sobering," Mattis told reporters en route to Vancouver for the United Nations Command Sending States, an event co-hosted by Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonDem lawmaker confronts Pompeo over spending cuts to diplomatic security GOP fundraiser subpoenas AP over source of leaked emails: report US weighed terrorism designation for Russia, but backed away: report MORE and Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland.

"But this meeting is designed to still make progress diplomatically such as you've seen with three unanimous [U.N.] Security Counsel resolutions over these last months," he said.

Mattis noted, however, that diplomats "are backed up by our military options."

"Obviously the whole point is to reinforce the diplomatic option to show that there are military options should there be a DPRK attack," he said, referring to North Korea's official name. 

More on his comments here.

 

PENTAGON, FDA TO SPEED UP APPROVAL OF BATTLEFIELD MEDICAL PRODUCTS: The Defense Department and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday announced new steps aimed at expediting the approval of medical devices and drugs for use on the battlefield.

The plan is being carried out in line with a law passed last year after a controversy over whether the Pentagon should be allowed to approve products for battlefield use.

"We recognize that there are essential and in some cases unmet health-care needs of those protecting our nation and that we at the FDA need to do our part to better protect them," Anna Abram, the FDA's deputy commissioner for policy, planning, legislation and analysis, said in a conference call with reporters. "Although we have had successful collaborations with [the Department of Defense] on some fronts, some pressing areas have clearly not received the attention from the FDA that they have needed."

Right now, the Pentagon is focusing on getting approval for freeze-dried plasma, cold-stored platelets and cryopreserved platelets, which the military hopes will help save troops from bleeding out on the battlefield.

The Pentagon and its advocates in Congress have been frustrated by what they describe as the FDA's slow approval of certain treatments they say could save lives on the battlefield. In particular, there has been a decade-long impasse between the Pentagon and the FDA over freeze-dried plasma.

The Hill's Rebecca Kheel has the rest here.

 

TOP NAVY SURFACE WARFARE OFFICER EXPECTED TO RESIGN EARLY AFTER COLLISIONS: The Navy's top surface warfare officer is expected to resign this week ahead of his previously planned retirement following a series of deadly collisions this past summer, Defense News reported Tuesday.

Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, commander of Naval Surface Forces, will send a letter of resignation this week after an independent investigation into the deadly collisions recommended he be relieved, according to the news outlet, which cited unnamed sources.

This past summer, 17 sailors died in separate collisions involving the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain in the western Pacific. Last year also saw nonfatal Navy crashes in the same region.

Several officers have been relieved since the fatal collisions, including the commander of the 7th Fleet and the commanders and executive officers of the Fitzgerald and the McCain.

Read more on that here. 

 

ON TAP TOMORROW:

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — GOP centrists in striking distance of immigration vote Dem leaders request bipartisan meeting on Russia probe Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (R-S.C.) will speak about the 2018 national security landscape at the American Enterprise Institute at 8:30 a.m.

The House Oversight Committee's national security subcommittee will hold a hearing on battlefield successes and challenges in the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria at 10 a.m. at Rayburn House Office Building 2154. 

The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the "State of the VA" at 2 p.m. at Russell Senate Office Building 418. 

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will have joint subcommittee hearing on North Korea's chemical, biological and conventional weapons with testimony from outside experts at 2 p.m. at Rayburn 2172. 

 

ICYMI:

-- The Hill: NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle

-- The Hill: North Korea tensions ease ahead of Winter Olympics

-- The Hill: Afghanistan moves reignite war authorization debate

-- The Hill: Pentagon planning two new nuclear weapons: report 

-- The Hill: Trump administration withholds $65 million from UN agency for Palestinians 

-- The Hill: Just days after Hawaii incident, Japan issues false missile alert 

-- The Hill: Opinion: Olympic diplomacy and elusive peace amid North Korea reality 

-- The Hill: Opinion: Congress should take the lead on reworking a successful Iran deal

-- Reuters: Iran says planned U.S.-backed force inside Syria would fan war

-- Defense News: National Military Strategy update in the works -- most of which will again be classified