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Overnight Defense: Trump signs $700B defense bill | Objects to cyber war measures | Mattis gets unique role in budget talks | DOJ appeals transgender recruit order

Overnight Defense: Trump signs $700B defense bill | Objects to cyber war measures | Mattis gets unique role in budget talks | DOJ appeals transgender recruit order
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THE TOPLINE: President TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE signed a nearly $700 billion annual defense policy bill on Tuesday, touting it as a step toward delivering on his promise to build up the military.

"Today with the signing of this defense bill, we accelerate the process of fully restoring America's military might," Trump said at a signing ceremony in the White House's Roosevelt Room.

But though National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorizes the military to add troops, ships, planes and other equipment, Congress has yet to pass a spending bill to make the buildup a reality.

Indeed, even as he celebrated the NDAA, Trump hit Congress -- specifically Democrats -- for not passing a defense spending bill.

"Now Congress must finish the job by eliminating the defense sequester and passing a clean appropriations bill. I think it's going to happen. We need our military; it's got to be perfecto," Trump said. "At this time of grave global threats, I urge Democrats to drop their shutdown threats and to send clean funding and a clean funding bill to my desk that fully funds our great military. Protecting our country should always be a bipartisan issue, just like today's legislation."

The NDAA passed Congress last month with large, bipartisan majorities, 356-70 in the House and by voice vote in the Senate.

The bill authorizes $626.4 billion for the base defense budget and $65.7 billion for a war fund known as Overseas Contingency Operations.

The money would go toward adding 7,500 active-duty soldiers to the Army, 4,000 active-duty sailors to the Navy, 1,000 active-duty Marines and 4,100 active-duty airmen to the Air Force. The Army, Navy and Air Force would also see increases in the reserves and National Guard.

It would also allow for a 2.4 percent pay raise for troops, higher than the 2.1 percent requested by the administration.

The Hill's Rebecca Kheel has more here.

 

Hours after he signed the NDAA, Trump voiced strong objection to language in the defense policy bill that requires him to develop a national policy for cyberspace and cyberwarfare, charging that it and other provisions "raise constitutional concerns."

The provision in question requires the administration to set forth a national cyber policy that addresses the use of offensive cyber capabilities to respond to attacks in cyberspace. The law requires the administration to report the strategy to Congress and makes funding for the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) contingent on Trump doing so.

Trump argued in the statement released by the White House that the provision amounts to Congress holding "hostage" his ability to communicate on national security strategy going forward, saying the provision "threatens to undermine the effective operation of the Executive Office of the President." 

Read more about that here.

 

MATTIS GETS UNIQUE ROLE IN BUDGET TALKS: When President Trump and lawmakers met last week at the White House to start talks aimed at averting a government shutdown, the table of negotiators included the usual suspects and one new addition: Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisNearly 300 more former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter John Kelly called Trump 'the most flawed person' he's ever met: report Biden courts veterans amid fallout from Trump military controversies MORE.

The former Marine Corps general's presence was meant to "be an adult in the room" and impart the importance of lifting long-in-place defense spending caps as President Trump seeks a deal with congressional Democrats to fund the government next year. 

Mattis is perhaps the most respected figure in Trump's Cabinet and was confirmed in an overwhelming 98-1 Senate vote. Trump seemed to be aiming at harnessing that political clout in the bargaining session.

One defense industry consultant said Mattis could have an impact on the budget talks, in which Republicans are seeking to add more for defense spending than nondefense spending.

Democrats, in contrast, are demanding equal hikes to defense and nondefense spending.

"Trump is rolling out a heavyweight general to support both a full-year defense bill at the president's budget or higher," the consultant said.

Read the rest here.

 

SENATE DEMS PLAY HARDBALL ON FUNDING BILL: Senate Democrats are warning that they will not accept a plan by House conservatives to pair a full year of defense funding with a short-term fix for other programs.

"We write to express our concern with reports that the House Republican leadership is considering sending partisan legislation to the Senate that would result in funding cuts to important homeland security, veterans, agriculture and health care programs," 44 of the caucus's 48 members wrote in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi bullish, Trump tempers optimism | Analysis: Nearly 1M have run out of jobless benefits Trump casts doubt on hopes for quick stimulus deal after aides expressed optimism Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid MORE (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats MORE (R-Wis.).

They said Republicans should "forego any plans to consider partisan legislation known as a 'CRomnibus.'"

The letter comes as leadership is locked down in negotiations with the White House ahead of next week's Dec. 22 deadline to fund the government.  

The Hill's Jordain Carney has the rest here.

 

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION APPEALS TRANSGENDER RECRUIT ORDER: The Department of Justice filed an appeal late Monday after a judge ruled that the Trump administration must accept transgender military recruits by the new year, according to multiple reports.

"The government seeks a stay pending appeal of the portion of the injunction concerning accessions," lawyers representing the administration said in a brief, as reported by CNN.

The filing came after a federal judge on Monday stopped the administration's attempt to ban the enlistment of new transgender troops. 

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department in a statement argued that that the plaintiffs in the case have not "established that they will be impacted by current policies on military service."

Read more about the appeal here.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW:

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft will speak at a Navy League breakfast at 8 a.m. at the Westin Crystal City in Arlington, Va. 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hear from former defense and national security officials on strategic, political and legal considerations of using force at 9:30 a.m. in Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 419. 

The House Veterans' Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on pre-discharge claims programs at 10 a.m. at Cannon House Office Building 334. 

A Senate Armed Services subcommittee will receive an update on research, diagnosis and treatment for traumatic brain injury and concussion in service members at 10 a.m. at the Russell Senate Office Building, room 222.

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine DukeElaine Costanzo DukeAppeals court sides with Trump over drawdown of immigrant protections Trump mulled selling Puerto Rico, former aide says Chad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary MORE will speak on the future of combating terrorism and countering the use of weapons of mass destruction at 1:45 p.m. at the Hudson Institute. 

A House Armed Services Committee subpanel will hold a hearing on addressing physiological episodes in fighter, attack and training aircraft at 3:30 p.m. at Rayburn House Office Building 2118. 

 

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Please send tips and comments to Rebecca Kheel, rkheel@thehill.com, and Ellen Mitchell, emitchell@thehill.com.

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