Overnight Defense: McCain grills Trump's budget pick | Dems seek to limit Trump on nukes | Senators weigh new round of base closures

Overnight Defense: McCain grills Trump's budget pick | Dems seek to limit Trump on nukes | Senators weigh new round of base closures
© Greg Nash

THE TOPLINE: Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCNN anchor hits Trump: He didn't go to Vietnam 'until he was in his 70s' with 'Secret Service protection' Trump reignites criticism of McCain months after senator's death Graham defends McCain amid Trump attacks: 'Nothing about his service will ever be changed' MORE (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday that President Trump's pick to lead the White House budget office was an "impediment" to supporting the U.S. military, questioning whether he took the issue seriously.

McCain called out Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Trump's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, for a series of votes he made against increasing military funding and in favor of pulling U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Europe.

"Maybe you don't take it with the seriousness that it deserves," McCain said of supporting the military during Mulvaney's hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

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Mulvaney has opposed major defense spending boosts before, while McCain and other defense hawks have supported them.

Mulvaney on Tuesday promised to support Trump's pledge to expand the military and defended his previous votes against funding as efforts to increase government transparency.

The Hill's Sylvan Lane has the story

 

MANCHIN TO BACK TRUMP'S STATE PICK: Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenators offer bipartisan bill to fix 'retail glitch' in GOP tax law Murkowski, Manchin call for 'responsible solutions' to climate change Trump formally taps David Bernhardt to succeed Zinke at Interior MORE (D-W.Va) is throwing his support behind Rex Tillerson's nomination to be secretary of State, making him the first Democrat to support the President Trump nominee.

Manchin noted that he has known Tillerson "for years" and pointed to his executive experience leading Exxon Mobil Corp. as "critical."

"I have no hesitation in supporting Rex Tillerson's confirmation to be secretary of State after the Office of Government Ethics described his ethics agreement as a sterling model for what they would like to see from other nominees," Manchin said in a statement. 

The Hill's Jordain Carney has more here

 

MCCAIN FLOATS MILITARY BASE CLOSURES: Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday that he is "seriously considering" the possibility of closing excess military bases. 

McCain said during a committee hearing that he and Ranking Member Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedOvernight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget Warren confronts acting Pentagon chief over 4B war fund request Shanahan grilled on Pentagon's border wall funding MORE (D-R.I.) "are seriously considering the issue of [base closure and realignment (BRAC)]," referring to a process to close and consolidate bases.

Despite budget constraints in recent years, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have opposed closing excess military bases due to the negative impact it could have on local communities and constituents. 

The Hill's Kristina Wong has more here

 

DEMS SEEK TO LIMIT TRUMP ON NUKES: Two Democrats are pushing Congress to restrict President Trump's ability to launch nuclear weapons, reintroducing a bicameral bill Tuesday that would prohibit the president from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress.

"Nuclear war poses the gravest risk to human survival," Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Hillicon Valley: Google takes heat at privacy hearing | 2020 Dems to debate 'monopoly power' | GOP rips net neutrality bill | Warren throws down gauntlet over big tech | New scrutiny for Trump over AT&T merger Overnight Energy: EPA moves to raise ethanol levels in gasoline | Dems look to counter White House climate council | Zinke cleared of allegations tied to special election MORE (D-Mass.) said in a statement. "Yet, President Trump has suggested that he would consider launching nuclear attacks against terrorists. Unfortunately, by maintaining the option of using nuclear weapons first in a conflict, U.S. policy provides him with that power."

Markey and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) have long opposed America's first-strike policy, which says the country reserves the right to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike. Former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama reminisces about visit to Ireland on St. Patrick's Day: 'It'll always be O'Bama' Klobuchar on Trump's rhetoric and hate crimes: 'At the very least, he is dividing people' As global order collapses, American leadership is critical MORE reportedly weighed changing the policy before leaving office, but ultimately did not after advisers argued against it.

The Hill's Rebecca Kheel has more here

 

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