Overnight Defense: Judge orders Pentagon to accept transgender recruits on Jan. 1 | Trump eyes sending American astronauts back to moon | GOP reps want Iran sanctions over Yemen war

Overnight Defense: Judge orders Pentagon to accept transgender recruits on Jan. 1 | Trump eyes sending American astronauts back to moon | GOP reps want Iran sanctions over Yemen war
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THE TOPLINE: The Pentagon will begin accepting transgender recruits into the military on Jan. 1 after a federal judge ordered it to do so.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday ruled against the administration's request to delay enlisting transgender recruits.

"In sum, having carefully considered all of the evidence before it, the court is not persuaded that defendants will be irreparably injured by allowing the accession of transgender individuals into the military beginning on January 1, 2018."

Later Monday, the Pentagon said it will follow the order while the administration appeals.


"As required by recent federal district court orders, the Department of Defense recently announced it will begin processing transgender applicants for military service on January 1, 2018," it said. "This policy will be implemented while the Department of Justice appeals those court orders."

The administration tried to delay enlisting new transgender troops after Kollar-Kotelly issued an injunction against the transgender ban President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE announced on Twitter in July and made official with a memo in August.

In October, Kollar-Kotelly blocked the ban from taking effect while a lawsuit against it works its way through court.

The lawsuit was brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) on behalf of six unnamed service members and two recruits.

Last month, after a motion by the Trump administration, Kollar-Kotelly issued a follow-up ruling clarifying the earlier one that said the injunction means the military must accept transgender recruits by Jan. 1, as it had planned to do prior to Trump's ban.

The Trump administration has appealed the ruling on the injunction and last week filed the emergency motion asking for a stay on the requirement to accept new troops pending the outcome of the appeal.

But on Monday, the judge sided with the plaintiffs.

Read more about the ruling here.


TRUMP SIGNS DIRECTIVE TO RETURN AMERICANS TO THE MOON: President Trump on Monday directed NASA to send American astronauts to the surface of the moon again -- and eventually Mars.

The Hill's Ellen Mitchell reports:

President Trump in a White House ceremony on Monday signed a new directive aimed at sending U.S. astronauts back to the moon -- one that, while short on details, the administration insisted will restore the U.S. to its role as a leader in space exploration and help spur job growth.

The order "will refocus America's space program on human exploration and discovery," and "marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon ... for long-term exploration and use," Trump said prior to signing the document.

Monday marks the anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission landing on the moon in 1972, the last human voyage to the moon.

Trump opened the ceremony by thanking Vice President Pence, chairman of the National Space Council, "for helping ... to restore American leadership in space."

Also at the ceremony was retired astronaut Harrison Hagan "Jack" Schmitt, the last living crew member of Apollo 17, and Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon.

Read the rest here.


GOP REPS PUSH SANCTIONS ON IRAN FOR YEMEN WAR: Two senior House Foreign Affairs Republicans have introduced a bill that would sanction Iran for its support of rebels in the Yemen civil war.

The Hill's Cristina Marcos reports:

A pair of senior GOP lawmakers are pushing to impose sanctions on Iran for its destabilizing activities in Yemen as the House prepares to vote this week on legislation to crack down on the country's financing of terrorism.

Reps. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenCook moves status of 6 House races as general election sprint begins The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Cuomo wins and Manafort plea deal Trump's Puerto Rico tweets spark backlash MORE (R-Fla.) and Ted PoeLloyd (Ted) Theodore PoeCook shifts two House GOP seats closer to Dem column Five races to watch in the Texas runoffs Five Republican run-offs to watch in Texas MORE (R-Texas), both senior members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced a bill to sanction Iran for its support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Iran's involvement in Yemen's civil war has included its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps transferring weapons systems to the Houthis.

"The Iranians need to be held accountable for the mess and war they are perpetuating in Yemen. This bill will send a clear message to Tehran to stop their activities or pay the price. And that's just the way it is," Poe said in a statement on Monday.

The Houthis stormed Yemen's capital in 2015 and pushed out the internationally recognized government. Saudi-backed military forces have not been able to remove the Houthis in their campaign in support of the ousted Yemeni government.

Read more here.


TROOP DIES IN AFGHANISTAN 'VEHICLE INCIDENT': A U.S. service member died Monday after a "vehicle incident" in Afghanistan, the U.S.-NATO coalition said.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our own," Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said in a statement. "Our deepest sympathies and prayers are with the families and friends of our fallen and injured comrades."

The incident happened in the eastern province of Nangarhar and also injured two other service members who are receiving medical treatment, according to the news release.

"The incident was not the result of enemy action," the release adds, providing no additional details of the nature of the incident.

Read the rest here.



A Senate Foreign Relations Committee subpanel will hear from State Department officials on U.S. interests and coercive Russian diplomacy in European energy security at 10 a.m. at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 419. http://bit.ly/2jbvA1B

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster will speak at the Policy Exchange conference on U.S.-U.K. relations at noon at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington. http://bit.ly/2jbOLrP

A House Foreign Affairs Committee subpanel will hold a hearing on protecting North Korean refugees at 2 p.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2200. http://bit.ly/2zWdIe7

The House Veterans Affairs Committee will get an update on the implementation of the Harry W. Colmery Educational Assistance Act of 2017, also known as the Forever GI Bill, at 2 p.m. at the Cannon House Office Building, room 334. http://bit.ly/2A6sU8t

A Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee will hold a hearing on the future of Zimbabwe at 2 p.m. at Dirksen 419. http://bit.ly/2B6UKVB



-- The Hill: US, allies plan missile-tracking drills amid tensions on Korean Peninsula

-- The Hill: Iraq says war against ISIS is over

-- The Hill: White House urges Saudis, Yemeni rebels to 'immediately cease hostilities'

-- The Hill: Opinion: America talks big but acts small when it comes to North Korea

-- The Hill: Opinion: It's time for a military solution to North Korea

-- The New York Times: In Syria's skies, close calls with Russian warplanes

-- Bloomberg: World arms sales rise for first time since 2010, group says

-- Associated Press: UN: Tensions over North Korea worsen rights violations


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