Overnight Defense: GOP plays hardball by attaching defense funding to CR | US reportedly drawing down in Iraq | Russia, US meet arms treaty deadline | Why the military wants $716B from Congress

Overnight Defense: GOP plays hardball by attaching defense funding to CR | US reportedly drawing down in Iraq | Russia, US meet arms treaty deadline | Why the military wants $716B from Congress
© Greg Nash

THE TOPLINE: House Republicans are moving to pair a full year of defense spending with a short-term measure to avoid a government shutdown on Friday, effectively daring Democrats in the Senate to block it.

Democrats have demanded that any increase in defense spending be matched with increases to non-defense spending. They also want to reach an immigration deal before they agree to a broader deal on lifting the budget spending caps.

But House GOP leadership's decision puts Senate Democrats in an unenviable position.


Following last month's government shutdown, House Republicans are betting that Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerProtecting our judiciary must be a priority in the 116th Congress Baldwin's Trump plays 'Deal or No Deal' with shutdown on 'Saturday Night Live' Sunday shows preview: Shutdown negotiations continue after White House immigration proposal MORE (D-N.Y.) and his fellow Democrats won't have the nerve to force another closure by blocking the bill in the Senate.

Senate Republicans would need at least nine Democratic votes to beat back a Democratic-led filibuster.

Schumer declared the House GOP measure dead on arrival in a floor speech.

"Sending a cromnibus to the Senate, one that just funded defense and cut programs crucial to the middle class, would be barreling head-first into a dead-end," Schumer said, referring to a cross between an omnibus spending bill and short-term continuing resolution or "CR" to keep the government open.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump once asked Paul Ryan why he couldn’t be ‘loyal': book AEI names Robert Doar as new president GOP can't excommunicate King and ignore Trump playing to white supremacy and racism MORE (R-Wis.) and other GOP leaders will pitch the plan at an emergency GOP conference meeting Monday night, GOP sources told The Hill. A vote on the floor could happen as early as Tuesday.

Pairing the defense funding with what's expected to be a six-week continuing resolution (CR) would appease defense hawks and conservative hard-liners in the House GOP conference, allowing Ryan and his team to pass a government funding bill with Republican votes.

Read the rest here.


COALITION ANNOUNCES 'SHIFT' IN IRAQ AMID DRAWDOWN REPORTS: The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) says it's shifting its focus in Iraq with the terrorist group on the run there.

The announcement came after several reports citing Iraqi officials said U.S. forces have begun drawing down in the country.

"Enabled by accelerated successes following the liberation of Mosul, the coalition will shift its focus in Iraq from enabling combat operations to sustaining military gains against Daesh," Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) said in a news release Monday, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

The coalition's Monday statement mentioned a changing "force composition," but pledged to keep an "appropriate amount" of capabilities in Iraq. Its continued presence will be "conditions-based, proportional to the need and in coordination with the government of Iraq," it added.

"We're clear the enemy is still capable of offensive action and retains the ability to plan and inspire attacks worldwide," Brig. Gen. Jonathan Braga, the coalition's director of operations, said in a statement. "Although OIR's force composition may change over time to ensure we have the best forces on hand for the task, we will retain an appropriate amount of capabilities as well as an advisory presence to continue training, advising and equipping our partners in the continued fight against Daesh, all with the approval of the government of Iraq."

Read more about the coalition announcement here.


BACKSTORY: Earlier Monday, The Associated Press and Reuters quoted an Iraqi government spokesman as saying U.S. forces were drawing down in the country following ISIS's defeat there. An unnamed senior Iraqi official told the AP an initial agreement between Baghdad and Washington would see 60 percent of U.S. troops withdraw.

Read more about their reports here.


RUSSIA, US MEET ARMS TREATY LIMITS: The United States and Russia said separately that they met the Monday deadline of a nuclear arms treaty between the two countries that President TrumpDonald John TrumpAlyssa Milano: 'The red MAGA hat is the new white hood' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s new immigration plan faces uphill battle in Senate This week: Congress heading in opposite directions on shutdown plans MORE once called a "one-sided deal."

The New START Treaty, which took effect in 2011 after being negotiated by the Obama administration, required both countries to draw down to 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads by Feb. 5, 2018.

"The United States completed its reductions and achieved these limits in August 2017," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Monday. "The Russian Federation has repeatedly stated its commitment to the New START Treaty, including meeting the central limits, and we expect our upcoming data exchange under the treaty to reaffirm that commitment."

In its own statement Monday, the Russian foreign ministry said it has "fully complied" with the treaty. It also accused the United States of complying with the treaty by reconfiguring systems so that Russia "cannot confirm" whether they are incapable of delivering nuclear weapons instead of reducing its arms.

Read more here.


WHY $716 BILLION?: Even as the fiscal 2018 budget fight continues, the Trump administration is gearing up to release its fiscal 2019 budget proposal.

Over the weekend, we looked at why the administration will be asking for $716 billion for defense.

If you missed it:

The Trump administration is poised to ask Congress for $716 billion for defense for fiscal 2019, a major hike that budget analysts say aligns with the administration's stated goals of bulking up the military and preparing it to potentially fight near-peer rivals after years of focusing on terrorism.

"A total of $716 billion means that they are putting themselves on the trajectory for a big buildup in military power," said Todd Harrison, a defense budget expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "The caveat, though, is to really carry out the plans that they talked about in the past, you wouldn't just need 7 percent growth in [fiscal] '19; you would need similar levels of growth in the years following."

President Trump came into office pledging to rebuild what he described as a "depleted" military.

"You know, our military has been depleted over the last long period of time, even beyond [former President] Obama," Trump reiterated Thursday at the annual Republican congressional retreat. "It's been depleted. We've got to build up. This should not be a party thing; this should be common sense. Without our military, we might not be here talking. We have to have a strong military."

Read the rest here.



Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisKerry rips Trump’s ‘pull-out, walk-away presidency’ Macron: US 'retreat from Syria' won't change mission to eradicate ISIS Poll: Most Americans want US troops in Syria MORE and Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva will testify before the House Armed Services Committee at 10 a.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2118. http://bit.ly/2BPPyCa

Veterans Affairs Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon Shulkin‘We Can Do It!’: Women and bipartisanship Reforming veterans benefits will be controversial, but necessary Trump’s shifting Cabinet to introduce new faces MORE will testify before the House Veterans Affairs Committee on the VA Caregiver Support Program at 10 a.m. at the Cannon House Office Building, room 334. http://bit.ly/2DX5m7S

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hear from Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan on the administration's South Asia strategy on Afghanistan at 10 a.m. at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 419. http://bit.ly/2E6Jhaz

The House Foreign Affairs Committee has three hearings scheduled:

-- A full committee hearing on U.S. cyber diplomacy with testimony from outside experts at 10 a.m. at Rayburn 2172. http://bit.ly/2s0KQln

-- A subcommittee hearing on the way forward in Syria with testimony from outside experts at 2 p.m. at Rayburn 2172. http://bit.ly/2nBlFjL

-- A subcommittee hearing on U.S.-Pakistan relations with testimony from outside experts at 2 p.m. at Rayburn 2200. http://bit.ly/2Ed7qvS

A House Armed Services subcommittee will hear from NASA and military officials on physiological episodes that are endangering pilots in fighter aircraft at 3:30pm in Rayburn 2118. http://bit.ly/2GIddrK



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