OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Pelosi pushes for lame-duck ISIS vote

THE TOPLINE: House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden blasts Trump, demands he release transcript of call with foreign leader Pelosi wants to change law to allow a sitting president to be indicted Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Walmart to stop selling e-cigarettes | Senators press FDA to pull most e-cigarettes immediately | House panel tees up e-cig hearing for next week MORE (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that lawmakers should be prepared to vote during the lame-duck session on authorizing military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“When this Congress comes back into session in November, it’s important we are ready to debate and vote on such an authorization. Between then and now, we should be prepared,” Pelosi said at her weekly press conference.

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Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBoehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader Scaramucci compares Trump to Jonestown cult leader: 'It's like a hostage crisis inside the White House' MORE (R-Ohio), however, has previously said that the lame duck is the wrong time for Congress to debate authorizing military force.

On Sunday, Boehner said that he would be “happy” to call back lawmakers if President Obama offered a war resolution for members to vote for.

"The president has not done that. He believes he has authority under existing resolutions,” the Speaker said.

Pelosi said Congress shouldn’t wait for Obama to send a request to Capitol Hill.

“I disagree with the Speaker who says ‘well, we should wait for the president to give us an authorization so that we can vote on it,' " she said. 

“You don’t wait for the president to write it. Congress writes it because we are asserting our willingness to vote for a plan of action." 

Pelosi and Boehner have both said Obama has the necessary authority to carry out current operations, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have pressed for a vote to authorize military action.

Lawmakers including Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), have introduced bills that provide for the use of military force.

Pelosi on Wednesday said Congress should have stayed to work on the war authorization.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) on Wednesday, called on Congress to return to Washington early for a vote. But a controversial war vote is unlikely to happen before the November 4 midterm elections.

Both the House and Senate are in recess until Nov. 12.

 

MARINE’S MOM WANTS OBAMA'S HELP: The mother of a Marine who has been detained for more than 180 days in Mexico on Wednesday pleaded for President Obama's help to secure his release.

Jill Tahmooressi testified in an emotional House subcommittee hearing that her son, Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, is being wrongfully held in Tijuana after being arrested for possessing weapons and ammunition on the border. 

She said he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and facing brutal conditions.

“My son is despondent, without treatment, and he needs to be home,” she said.

Tahmooressi teared up as she read emails from her son about his treatment in Mexico.

"April 14th, 'Mom, I tried to kill myself because the guards and the inmates were going to rape, torture and execute me for personal information. I needed to protect you,’ ” she read aloud from one email, her voice breaking.

Tahmooressi said her son made a wrong turn that took him to the border of Mexico, while legally having weapons in his vehicle. He was arrested by Mexican authorities for possessing weapons and ammunition.

Tahmooressi said Obama has never called her about her son’s detention, drawing a public rebuke from another witness, Montel Williams, the former TV host who is also a retired Navy lieutenant commander.

“I think the president needs to pick up the phone,” Williams said to applause in the hearing room. “Make the call.”

Williams, who has become a public champion on veterans’ mental health issues, gave emotional testimony, tearing up several times.

He said Tahmooressi “didn't hesitate to raise his hand and say, 'Aye, aye sir.’ How dare we — how dare we, as a nation, hesitate ... to get him back?"

Salmon said the United States has been generous in dealing with southern border crossings and now needs Mexico to return the favor.

"The fact is that Mexican citizens violate U.S. law on a regular and continuing basis, illegally crossing our southern border. Mexican officials respond by asking the U.S. for compassion and amnesty for their citizens to remain in the U.S.," Salmon said.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), the subcommittee's ranking member, said the State Department needs to make the Marine’s release a priority.

"There's no question that our government needs to do whatever it takes to support Sgt. Tahmooressi, as he seeks justice and freedom in Mexico,” she said.

 

NAVY CHIEF DEFENDS 11-CARRIER FLEET: Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus on Wednesday argued that the U.S. needs a fleet of 11 aircraft carriers.

"We need 11 to have the constant presence that we need. We need 11 to get them into a more regular cycle of maintenance and training," he told reporters at a breakfast.

His comments put him on the same side as lawmakers who have sought to save the USS George Washington from budget cuts.

The Navy is now operating with 10 carriers, thanks to a waiver from Congress. The USS Enterprise was retired in December, while a new carrier, the USS Gerald Ford, will not be ready until 2016.

The Defense Department in March submitted a budget request that did not include money to refuel and overhaul another carrier, the George Washington, effectively retiring the ship.

Lawmakers fought back against additional cuts to the carrier fleet, including language to start maintenance work on the George Washington in 2015 defense policy and spending bills, which are expected to pass during the lame-duck session of Congress.

"It was a purely financial thing that it was one of the few places you could go to get that amount of money," Mabus said of the Pentagon's decision to retire the ship.

"But going forward, certainly our plan is to keep the carrier and that was unambiguous from Congress," he said.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

—Treasury official outlines plan to cut off ISIS financing

—Gen. Allen: Could take years to train rebels

—U.S. weighs $1.75 billion defense sale to Saudis

—Murray: Pentagon should revaluate vehicle shipment contract

—House chairman fears ‘political tantrums’ could sink cyber bill

 

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