Overnight Defense: Latest on scrapped Korea summit | North Korea still open to talks | Pentagon says no change in military posture | House passes $716B defense bill | Senate version advances

Overnight Defense: Latest on scrapped Korea summit | North Korea still open to talks | Pentagon says no change in military posture | House passes $716B defense bill | Senate version advances
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TOPLINE: President Trump on Thursday canceled his nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, citing Kim's "tremendous anger and open hostility" toward the United States.  

"I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting," Trump wrote in a letter to Kim that was released by the White House. 

Speaking later at the White House, Trump said his "maximum pressure campaign" against North Korea would continue and threatened a military response if Kim resumes nuclear activity. 

The two were scheduled to meet June 12 in Singapore in what would have been the first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. 

 

But Trump leaves the door open: Trump left open the possibility the nuclear summit will still take place, just hours after canceling it. 

"It's possible that the existing summit could take place, or a summit at some later date," Trump said during a bill signing ceremony at the White House. 

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Trump added that if Kim takes "constructive actions" before the scheduled June 12 meeting in Singapore, "I am waiting," but also that "we have to get it right."

 

What prompted the cancelation: Trump publicly expressed doubt about whether the summit would take place after North Korea threatened to pull out if the U.S. continued to demand full denuclearization.

On Wednesday, a top North Korean official launched another verbal fusillade at the Trump administration, calling Vice President Pence a "political dummy" and saying his government is just as ready to inflict an "appalling tragedy" on the U.S. as it is to talk. 

The president returned the favor in his letter, writing that while Kim likes to "talk about" his nuclear capabilities, "ours are so massive and so powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used."  

 

North Korea said it's still open to meeting: North Korea signaled later Thursday that it is still open to talks with the United States.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan said in a statement broadcast by North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency that Pyongyang is willing to talk with the U.S. at any point, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.

The North Korean official said in a statement carried by the North Korean state news agency that Trump's decision to cancel the meeting planned for June 12 in Singapore was unexpected and the move was not in the interest of the world.

 

Click here for a copy of Trump's letter to Kim.

 And here are the five takeaways on the canceled summit.

 

More on the scrapped summit:

-- Trump dictated 'every word' of the letter canceling the North Korea summit, a White House official said.

-- The Pentagon insisted there would be no change in their military posture after the talks feel through.

-- Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight 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 Pompeo’s staff cracks down on ‘correct use of commas’ at State Dept MORE told lawmakers that North Korea wasn't replying to U.S. preparation efforts for the summit.

-- Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, is defending North Korea over the canceled summit.

-- The South Korean president said he was 'perplexed' at Trump's decision to cancel.

-- And #Resistance Twitter took delight in Trump's canceled summit.

 

HOUSE EASILY PASSES $171B DEFENSE BILL: The House on Thursday effortlessly passed its $717 billion defense policy bill for fiscal 2019, with more than 100 Democrats backing the measure alongside Republicans.

The House's version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed 351-66, with 131 Democrats siding with 220 Republicans to support the bill. Among those who voted against the bill were seven Republicans.

"The best way to summarize this bill is that it takes the next steps," Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said on the House floor before the vote.

 

The issues: Prior to the vote, Democrats argued for amendments that eventually were voted down on immigration, gun control and limiting nuclear spending. Ultimately, though, they backed the bill over readiness concerns.

But the bill was not without its issues. Receiving a large amount of Democratic pushback was a provision that would authorize $65 million to develop a new "low-yield" nuclear weapon to be launched from submarines. The Trump administration wants the new warhead as part of its recent Nuclear Posture Review, released earlier this year.

"This bill ... pushes us even further and faster down the path to war, toward a new nuclear arms race," said Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), who offered an amendment along with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) to hold back on half of the weapon's funding until an assessment on its impact.

Such proposals to limit nuclear weapons spending were voted down.

Also rejected was language that would cut several Pentagon support agencies.

 

What got funded: The bill would approve nearly 16,000 additional active-duty troops across the military, providing a 2.6 percent pay raise for them -- the highest such raise in nine years.

It would also authorize more than $25 billion for equipment maintenance, three more Navy ships than requested by the Navy, 77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and the upgrade of thousands of vehicles.

Among the provisions included in the bill was an amendment offered by Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Mattis dismisses talk he may be leaving | Polish president floats 'Fort Trump' | Dem bill would ban low-yield nukes Dems introduce bill to ban low-yield nukes Dems seek ways to block Trump support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen MORE (D-Wash.) to establish an independent commission to study military aviation safety.

The bill also includes an authorized $39 billion for military aviation upgrades after a series of deadly military aircraft incidents in the past year.

 

SENATE ADVANCES $716B DEFENSE POLICY BILL: The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday released details of its version of a $716 billion annual defense policy bill, which was sent to the Senate floor in a closed-door 25-2 vote.

The bill is meant to advance the goals of the administration's National Defense Strategy, according to a bipartisan summary of the bill.

 

How it lays out: The committee's version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would authorize about $617.6 billion for the Pentagon's base budget and for $21.6 billion defense-related programs of the Energy Department.

It would also authorize about $68.5 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.

Another $8.2 billion in defense-related spending outside the jurisdiction of the NDAA brings the topline to $715.9 billion.

 

What that goes toward: The money would fund a slew of new equipment, including $7.6 billion for 75 F-35 fighters jets. That's two fewer than the Trump administration requested, a decision made "to realign the program towards sustainment," according to the summary.

It would also authorize $23.1 billion, or $1.2 billion more than requested, to fund 10 new ships, including three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, two Virginia-class submarines and one littoral combat ship.

The bill would also allow a 2.6-percent pay raise for troops and add almost 7,000 active-duty troops to the military, broken down into 2,241 soldiers, 4,000 sailors, 100 Marines and 620 airmen.

 

ICYMI

--The Hill: Trump awards Medal of Honor to retired Navy SEAL

--The Hill: Security forces guarding nuclear missiles used LSD: report

--The Hill: Trump to sign directive to reform commercial space regulations

--The Hill: North Korea claims it has destroyed nuclear testing site

--The Hill: Beijing: US 'ignored the facts' in uninviting China from naval exercises

--The Hill: Opinion: Trump won't be Charlie Brown to Kim's Lucy with the football

--The Hill: Opinion: Trump may have given Kim an offer he dares not refuse, despite Beijing's objections