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 SmithOvernight Energy: Pentagon report warns of climate threats to bases | Court halts offshore oil testing permits | Greens challenge federal drilling work during shutdown Overnight Defense: Second Trump-Kim summit planned for next month | Pelosi accuses Trump of leaking Afghanistan trip plans | Pentagon warns of climate threat to bases | Trump faces pressure to reconsider Syria exit Pentagon warns of threat to bases from climate change 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 TrumpDACA recipient claims Trump is holding ‘immigrant youth hostage’ amid quest for wall Lady Gaga blasts Pence as ‘worst representation of what it means to be Christian’ We have a long history of disrespecting Native Americans and denying their humanity MORE's plans to expand and modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

The Senate results, meanwhile, mean that Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofePressure mounts for Trump to reconsider Syria withdrawal Dems express alarm at Trump missile defense plans Dem senator expresses concern over acting EPA chief's 'speedy promotion' 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 McCaskillThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government Ex-Sen. McCaskill joins NBC, MSNBC Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party MORE (D-Mo.) lost to Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), while Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party Senate approves funding bill, preventing partial government shutdown MORE (D-Ind.) lost to GOP businessman Mike Braun.

Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonFlorida lawmaker diagnosed with pancreatic cancer Rick Scott threw party at Florida governor’s mansion after DeSantis and family had moved in: report Restoration of voting rights by felons marks shift in Florida 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 KaineTrump pitches new plan to reopen government amid Dem pushback Democrats signal they'll reject Trump shutdown proposal Trump expected to pitch immigration deal to end funding stalemate MORE (D-Va.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandMedia reliability questioned over report Trump directed lies to Congress Gillibrand defends past stances on immigration: I would tell voters, 'look at my heart’ Identity politics and the race for the Democratic nomination MORE (D-N.Y.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenIdentity politics and the race for the Democratic nomination O'Rourke’s strategy: Show Americans the real Beto 2020 Democrats barnstorm the country for MLK weekend MORE (D-Mass.).

 

Cruz beats O'Rourke: House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Beto O'RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O'RourkeIdentity politics and the race for the Democratic nomination O'Rourke’s strategy: Show Americans the real Beto Ex-Michelle Obama aide says O'Rourke's road trip is a 'listening tour' in form of a travel blog MORE (D) was not able to best Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGroup aiming to draft Beto O’Rourke unveils first 2020 video Howard Dean looking for a 'younger, newer' Democratic nominee in 2020 Congress can stop the war on science 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 McSallyMark Kelly considering Senate bid as Arizona Dems circle McSally Schumer recruiting top-notch candidate for McCain Senate seat On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions 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 Russell5 themes to watch for in 2020 fight for House Oklahoma New Members 2019 Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — First lady's office pushes for ouster of national security aide | Trump taps retired general as ambassador to Saudis | Mattis to visit border troops | Record number of female veterans to serve in Congress MORE (R-Okla.), who lost in a reliably red district to Democrat Kendra Horn.

Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanGardner gets first Dem challenger for 2020 Senate race The 5 most competitive Senate races of 2020 10 things we learned from the midterms 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 Duane HunterWhat a year it’s been: A month-by-month look back at 2018's biggest stories Bipartisan lawmakers unveil bill to tighten some campaign rules California dreamin’ in the 2020 presidential 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) TesterCentrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter Dems offer measure to raise minimum wage to per hour Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party 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 PompeoPompeo: US 'absolutely not' getting out of the Middle East Pompeo taking meeting about running for Kansas Senate seat: report Ex-US envoy in ISIS fight: 'There's no plan for what's coming' after US troop withdrawal in Syria 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 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'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 ThornberryDems express alarm at Trump missile defense plans Dems seek House panel's support to block military funds for Trump border wall Syria too complex to make decisions in 280 characters … even for a president 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