Overnight Defense: Senate reaches budget deal with boost for defense | Defense hawks approve | Pentagon begins planning military parade for Trump | Mattis dodges question on cost | New transgender policy on the way

Overnight Defense: Senate reaches budget deal with boost for defense | Defense hawks approve | Pentagon begins planning military parade for Trump | Mattis dodges question on cost | New transgender policy on the way
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THE TOPLINE: The leaders of the Senate on Wednesday announced a bipartisan budget agreement that would raise caps on defense and nondefense spending.

The Hill's Alex Bolton reports:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Kavanaugh accuser set to testify Thursday McConnell told Trump criticism of Kavanaugh accuser isn't helpful: report MORE (R-Ky.) has announced a deal with Senate Democrats to fund the government and set spending levels for defense and nondefense programs over the next two years.

The legislation would avert a government shutdown on Friday, when federal funding is due to expire, and boost defense and nondefense programs.

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It also lifts the debt ceiling to March 2019, which White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders hailed as a decision that would move Congress away from "crisis-to-crisis budgeting."

The deal is backed by McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump slams Sessions in exclusive Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation MORE (D-N.Y.), and will almost certainly be cleared as part of a stopgap funding measure by the Senate before a Feb. 8 deadline to prevent a shutdown.

It is not entirely sure the package will win enough support to pass the House, however.

Read the rest here.

 

WHAT DEFENSE HAWKS ARE SAYING: Defense hawks appear to be onboard with the deal, which would mean $700 billion for defense in fiscal year 2018 and $716 billion in fiscal 2019.

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump hits McCain on ObamaCare vote GOP, White House start playing midterm blame game Arizona race becomes Senate GOP’s ‘firewall’ MORE (R-Ariz.) and House Armed Services Chairman Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryOvernight Defense: Details on defense spending bill | NATO chief dismisses talk of renaming HQ for McCain | North Korea warns US over cyber allegations Armed Services chairman laments 'fringe elements in politics' Overnight Defense: Mattis dismisses Woodward's book as 'fiction' | House moves to begin defense bill talks with Senate | Trump warns Syria after attack on rebel areas | Trump, South Korean leader to meet at UN MORE (R-Texas) endorsed the deal in a joint statement.

"This budget agreement is indispensable for our national security," McCain and Thornberry said. "Without it, our military would not be able to defend our nation, as Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and our military leaders have repeatedly warned. Today's agreement will provide our men and women in uniform with the training, capabilities and support they need to keep America safe and rise to all of the challenges that we ask of them."

Later, 13 Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee stood alongside Thornberry at a press conference to tout their support for the agreement.

"I suspect every person here has concerns about it, would write it differently than is currently being written, but that's not the choice. This is a negotiated compromise," Thornberry said, adding that he thinks it will pass. "And I think the people who are concerned about the consequences of debt have very good points. There are real consequences to mounting debt. At the same time, there are real consequences to not providing the resources to fix your planes and ships, and we saw some of those consequences in the past year."

Read more here.

 

House GOP fiscal conservatives, though, are pushing back against the deal. More on that here.

 

PENTAGON PLANNING TRUMP'S PARADE: Last night, The Washington Post broke the story that the Pentagon was taking seriously a request from President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE to plan a parade a la the one he saw on Bastille Day in France.

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump identifies first soldier remains from North Korea | New cyber strategy lets US go on offense | Army chief downplays talk of 'Fort Trump' Pompeo backed continued US support in Yemen war over objections from staff: report Stand with veterans instead of predatory for-profit colleges MORE said the Pentagon is working on options to present to Trump.

"I think we're all aware in this country of the president's affection and respect for the military," Mattis told reporters at the White House during a briefing. "We've been putting together some options. We'll send them up to the White House for decision."

But when asked about the cost of a parade after he spent much of the briefing laying out the need for adequate, stable funding, Mattis dodged.

"I think what my responsibility is to make certain I lay out the strategy and make the argument for the oversight of Congress to make the determination of fully funding us. As far as the parade goes again, the president's respect, his fondness for the military, I think is reflected in him asking for these options," Mattis said.

Read more here.

 

There was plenty of reaction to the plan Wednesday. Some of the headlines:

-- Shep Smith: Give Trump 'little mini replicas' of tanks instead of hosting parade

-- Duckworth mocks Trump's military parade: Troops 'don't need a show of bravado'

-- Senate Dems demand answers on cost of Trump's military parade proposal

-- Ex-NATO commander: We don't need a 'North Korean-style parade'

-- 'Fox & Friends' host: Trump's military parade 'seems like a waste of money'

-- Graham: Military parade should focus on people, not 'hardware'

-- Eleanor Holmes Norton to Trump: Fund veterans' health care, don't have a parade

-- GOP lawmaker: US parade should celebrate bringing troops home from 'unauthorized wars'

 

COURT FILING INDICATES NEW TRANSGENDER POLICY ON ITS WAY: A court filing in one of the legal challenges to President Trump's transgender ban indicates the results of the Pentagon's policy review will be wrapped up Feb. 21 as planned.

"Defendants' counsel contend that they cannot now comply because they will not be defending the policy now at issue but will be defending the policy to be disclosed on February 21, 2018," U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis wrote in a ruling on whether the Justice Department has to turn over information to the plaintiffs.

The court order was first reported by Buzzfeed.

Trump's August memo to the Pentagon gave Defense Secretary James Mattis six months to determine what to do with currently serving transgender troops, a deadline that comes Feb. 21. Mattis convened a panel to review the issue and make recommendations the policy.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW:

Army Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy will speak on the next steps for the Army at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Brookings Institution in Washington. http://brook.gs/2nCSQDA

Former deputy assistant U.S. attorney general John Yoo will speak on war powers and military force at 5:15 p.m. Thursday at the Atlantic Council in Washington. http://bit.ly/2DUrf7

 

ICYMI:

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-- Military Times: Military leaders dispute accusations of lax punishment for senior officers