Overnight Defense: What the midterms mean for defense panels | Pompeo cancels North Korea meeting | Trump eyes Kim summit in early 2019 | Pentagon drops name for border mission

Overnight Defense: What the midterms mean for defense panels | Pompeo cancels North Korea meeting | Trump eyes Kim summit in early 2019 | Pentagon drops name for border mission
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Happy Wednesday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Rebecca Kheel, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

 

THE TOPLINE: The dust is settling after Tuesday's midterm elections which saw Democrats win control of the House and Republicans expand their Senate majority.

For defense, that means House Armed Services Committee ranking member Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithBipartisan Senate panel leaders back fund to deter China Boosting military deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region House chairmen demand explanation on Trump's 'illegal' withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty MORE (D-Wash.) is poised to become the committee's next chairman.

In the lead up to the election, Smith listed some of his priorities for the chairmanship as reining in defense spending, conducting more vigorous oversight of military operations around the world and working to roll back President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichael Flynn transcripts reveal plenty except crime or collusion 50 people arrested in Minneapolis as hundreds more National Guard troops deployed Missouri state lawmaker sparks backlash by tweeting 'looters deserve to be shot' MORE's plans to expand and modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

The Senate results, meanwhile, mean that Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeBipartisan Senate panel leaders back fund to deter China The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Major space launch today; Trump feuds with Twitter Justice Department closing stock investigations into Loeffler, Inhofe, Feinstein MORE (R-Okla.) will keep his chairmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Changes are also in store for the memberships of both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. Here's how some defense-related races shook out:

 

Senate Armed Services Dems: Vulnerable Democrats who serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee either lost or are in too-close-to-call races.

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMissouri county issues travel advisory for Lake of the Ozarks after Memorial Day parties Senate faces protracted floor fight over judges amid pandemic safety concerns Amash on eyeing presidential bid: 'Millions of Americans' want someone other than Trump, Biden MORE (D-Mo.) lost to Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), while Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEx-Sen. Joe Donnelly endorses Biden Lobbying world 70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents MORE (D-Ind.) lost to GOP businessman Mike Braun.

Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonLobbying world The most expensive congressional races of the last decade Lobbying world MORE (D-Fla.), meanwhile, is expecting to head to a recount in his race against Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), where Scott holds a slim lead in the too-close-to-call race.

Several other committee Democrats who were expected to easily win re-election did so: Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Health Care: Trump says US 'terminating' relationship with WHO | Cuomo: NYC on track to start reopening week of June 8 | COVID-19 workplace complaints surge 10 things to know today about coronavirus The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Twitter says Trump violates rules with 'shooting' threat MORE (D-Va.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSenate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect food supply It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (D-N.Y.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: Trump ratchets up Twitter turmoil Hillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence' | Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged sanctions violations | Senators urge FTC to investigate TikTok child privacy issues Warren condemns 'horrific' Trump tweet on Minneapolis protests, other senators chime in MORE (D-Mass.).

 

Cruz beats O'Rourke: House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeBiden will help close out Texas Democrats' virtual convention: report O'Rourke on Texas reopening: 'Dangerous, dumb and weak' Parties gear up for battle over Texas state House MORE (D) was not able to best Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence' | Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged sanctions violations | Senators urge FTC to investigate TikTok child privacy issues Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged Iranian sanction violations On The Money: Trump signs order targeting social media firms' legal protections | 2M more Americans file new jobless claims, pushing total past 40M | White House to forgo summer economic forecast amid COVID-19, breaking precedent MORE (R) in deep red Texas.

Still, O'Rourke put up a stronger-than-expected fight and chatter has already begun on the rising Democratic star's 2020 potential.

 

Arizona too close: Air Force veteran and House Armed Service member Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyThe Hill's Campaign Report: Minneapolis protests rock the nation Democrats gear up to hit GOP senators on DACA Pence names new press secretary MORE's (R-Ariz.) race against Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) for a Senate seat remains too close to call.

House Armed Services Republicans: Over on the House Armed Services Committee, several Republicans are out.

The most surprising was Rep. Steve RussellSteven (Steve) Dane RussellBloomberg builds momentum on Capitol Hill with new endorsements The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority 5 themes to watch for in 2020 fight for House MORE (R-Okla.), who lost in a reliably red district to Democrat Kendra Horn.

Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanBottom Line Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform MORE (R-Colo.), who was seen as very vulnerable, lost to Democratic challenger Jason Crow.

Rep. Steve Knight (R-Calif.) conceded his race to Democratic challenger Katie Hill on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan HunterLobbying world Duncan Hunter granted delayed start to prison sentence over coronavirus New poll shows tight race in key California House race MORE (R-Calif.), who stepped down from the committee after being indicted on campaign finance violations, won reelection.

 

Tester hangs on: Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Memorial Day during COVID-19: How to aid our country's veterans Senate votes to reauthorize intel programs with added legal protections MORE (D-Mont.), the ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, survived his race against Republican Matt Rosendale to win a third term.

Tester became a top target for Trump, who traveled to Montana to campaign several times in recent weeks, for his role in bringing down the nomination of Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson to be Veterans Affairs chief.

 

NORTH KOREA SETBACK: You'd be forgiven for not realizing there has been another setback in nuclear talks with North Korea.

While most of America had its eyes locked on election results overnight, the State Department announced Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSchumer slams Trump's Rose Garden briefing on China as 'pathetic' Britain mulls pathway to citizenship for more than 3M inhabitants of Hong Kong Overnight Defense: Democrats expand probe into State IG's firing | House schedules late June votes with defense bill on deck | New Navy secretary sworn in MORE's meeting with North Korea's nuclear negotiator this week has been postponed.

In a statement just after midnight Wednesday, department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the New York meeting will now take place at an unspecified "later date."

"We will reconvene when our respective schedules permit," she said. "Ongoing conversations continue to take place. The United States remains focused on fulfilling the commitments agreed to by President Trump and Chairman Kim [Jong Un] at the Singapore Summit in June."

 

Original plans: Pompeo was expected to travel Thursday to New York with the Trump administration's special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegu.

They were scheduled to meet with Kim Yong Chol, former head of North Korea's spy agency who has been leading nuclear talks for North Korea.

The purpose of the meeting was to "discuss making progress on all four pillars of the Singapore Summit joint statement, including achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization" of North Korea, according to a Monday statement from the State Department.

Plans for a second summit between Trump and Kim were also expected to be discussed.

 

Why: The statement gave no reason why the meeting was postponed.

In a press conference Wednesday, Trump suggested it was merely a scheduling conflict.

"We're going to change it because of trips that are being made," Trump said. "We're going to make it to another date."

Trump also indicated he still wants to meet with Kim again and said he is now eying early next year.

 

How bad is it?: At least one regional expert cast the cancellation as a pretty bad sign.

"It goes without saying that with this recent cancellation, combined with tough statements coming out of Pyongyang along with Washington taking a tough line on sanctions relief, one thing is certain: the détente of 2018 could soon slip away," Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest, said in an email to reporters. "It seems most likely talks were cancelled to spare both sides the negative press of a failed negotiation, as North Korea and Washington seem very far apart on a viable path forward on denuclearization. We should all be watching the Korean Peninsula very careful over the next few days, as all indications so far show that the North Korea crisis is far from over. And that should worry us all."

 

'FAITHFUL PATRIOT' NO MORE: President Trump's order to deploy 7,000 U.S. troops to the border has been slammed by critics as a political stunt to energize his base heading into the midterms.

One of the details critics cited was the name of mission: Operation Faithful Patriot.

Now, a day after the elections, news broke that the Pentagon is no longer using that name.

Pentagon officials now refer to the deployment of more than 7,000 active duty troops as "border support," Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis told The Hill.

Davis said the name change has been in place for "a couple of days," but did not give the reason for it.

 

One possibility: The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, cited unnamed officials as saying one possible reason for getting rid of the Faithful Patriot name is the deployment is not technically an "operation" but rather is being done in support of another agency.

The Journal also reported that Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Pentagon watchdog sidelined by Trump resigns | Plan would reportedly bring troops in Afghanistan back by Election Day | Third service member dies from COVID-19 Trump wants troops in Afghanistan back stateside by Election Day: report 'Never Trump' Republicans: Fringe, or force to be reckoned with? MORE's office made the decision to drop the name and issued the order on Election Day.

 

AVIATION SAFETY: The work of governing is churning on, too, even as the country is focused on the elections.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and House Armed Services Chairman Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryHouse pays tribute to late Congressman Sam Johnson on the floor Bipartisan Senate panel leaders back fund to deter China Boosting military deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region MORE (R-Texas) announced Wednesday their appointments to the National Commission on Military Aviation Safety. The commission was created in this year's defense policy bill to address a spate of deadly aircraft accidents.

Smith chose retired Gen. Raymond Johns, Jr., who commanded Air Mobility Command from 2009 to 2012. Thornberry is appointing Pete Geren, who served in several top Pentagon posts from 2001 to 2009.

The president will appoint another four members of the commission.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

Army Secretary Mark Esper will discuss the future of the Army at 9:15 a.m. at the American Enterprise Institute. https://bit.ly/2JMfm7U

Kori Schake, a national security official in the George W. Bush administration and current deputy director-general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, will discuss "Was the United States Ever Good at National Security Policy?" at 4:45 p.m. at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. https://bit.ly/2yXg7GM

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: Trump scheduled for Macron meeting, no other one-on-ones with world leaders while in Paris

-- The Hill: Active-duty troops at border will not receive combat pay

-- The Hill: Pompeo approves sanctions exception for development of Iranian port to help Afghan economy

-- Associated Press: Troops from Saudi-led coalition take Yemen port neighborhood

-- Associated Press: US Syria envoy says US to contest Iran activities in region

-- The New York Times: Navy completes inquiry into strangling death of Army Green Beret in Mali