Budget/Appropriations

OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: No defense bill before election

On a related note, the House and Senate versions of the bill
are about $3 billion apart on their bottom lines, as a result of differences
over the Budget Control Act spending caps. Neither bill takes into account the
$55 billion cut for 2013 that would occur Jan. 2 under sequestration.

{mosads}McCain slammed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for not
bringing the bill up in July, where he referenced a streak you’ll hear repeated
plenty before the end of the year: the Defense authorization bill has passed
for 50 straight years.

McCain wants Obama to
invite him over: Sen.
John McCain (R-Ariz.) has begun floating a 3-month delay for
sequestration, but he said the plan to delay the cuts wouldn’t go anywhere
without the president’s involvement. McCain told reporters Tuesday that he
wants President Obama to call
lawmakers to the White House so that the cuts can actually get fixed, a refrain
he’s used many times over the past few months to little avail.

“I want him to call us over to the White House and say, ‘What do we need to do to fix this?’ ” McCain said. 

“That’s what presidents are supposed to do. That’s why his
title is commander in chief, not mine,” McCain said. “I wish it were,” he added
with a laugh.

Meanwhile, Senate
Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) told reporters Tuesday that he was
confident
sequestration would not happen because no one wants it to.

McCain and Graham
weigh in on Netanyahu:
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said they
were “surprised and disappointed” by reports that President Obama allegedly denied
a request
to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “It is puzzling that the President
can’t make time to see the head of state of one of America’s closest allies in
the world,” the senators said in a statement Tuesday evening.

“If these reports are true, the White House’s decision sends
a troubling signal to our ally Israel about America’s commitment at this
dangerous and challenging time, especially as Iran continues to work actively
toward developing a nuclear weapons capability.”

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor denied the rumors of a
snub by Obama, saying the two could not meet because of scheduling. But it will
still provide fodder for Republicans ahead of the election, as McCain and
Graham showed; the GOP and Mitt Romney have accused Obama of not supporting Israel
and criticized the president for not taking a hard enough line on Iran.

Shields up in the East: For months, House Republicans have
been trying to make their case for an East Coast missile shield. On Tuesday,
their argument picked a key endorsement. A study released by the National
Research Council, a subsidiary of the National Academy of Sciences, claimed a
new missile shield on the eastern seaboard would help close critical gaps in
the existing U.S. defenses.

The council’s findings fly in the face of the White House’s strategy of
building a new missile shield in Eastern Europe. But it does bolster House GOP
calls for an East Coast shield. Earlier this year, House Republicans pushed
through legislation funding a new East Coast shield to be built by 2015.

Put a cork in it: Sen. Bob Corker
(R-Tenn.) is doing all he can to put a cork — pun intended — in Iran’s efforts
to circumvent current economic sanctions. In a letter to Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton sent Tuesday, Corker demanded the department do all it can to
ensure Egypt was not helping Tehran smuggle out illegal oil shipments.

The sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies are designed to force Iran to
abandon its controversial nuclear program. Tehran claims the program is geared
toward peaceful means. The United States and Israel claim the program is designed to
create an atomic weapon. Recent reports claim Iraq and now Egypt have been
assisting the Iranian government in oil sales. If true, Corker argued that
assistance “stands as an affront to our strong efforts” to get Iran
to abandon its nuclear ambitions. 

Dem lawmaker targets
Academi:
Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) wants the State Department and
Pentagon to either suspend or debar Academi, formerly known as Xe and as Blackwater, from
receiving government contracts. Tierney, ranking member of the House Oversight National Security subcommittee said the recent settlement with the Eastern
District of North Carolina’s U.S. Attorney detailed “multiple alleged
violations” of arms export controls and federal firearms laws. He urged DOD and
State to re-evaluate the case and consider contract suspension or debarment
with the company that’s changed its name twice since the days it was
Blackwater. 


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

— US vulnerable to missile
attack

— Levin: Sequestration will
not
happen

— Netanyahu criticizes
US
on Iran

— GOP leaders invoke 9/11 on defense
cuts

— Obama marks 9/11
anniversary
at Pentagon

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

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