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 SmithLet's talk about education and school choice in 2020 Overnight Defense: Lawmakers on edge over Iran tensions | Questions rise after State pulls personnel from Iraq | Senators demand briefing | House panel advances 0B Pentagon spending bill | Warren offers plan on climate threats to military House Dems unveil bill to limit Pentagon's ability to transfer military construction dollars 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 TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE's plans to expand and modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

The Senate results, meanwhile, mean that Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Trump nominates Shanahan as Pentagon chief | House panel advances bill to block military funds for border wall | Trump defends Bolton despite differences Trump nominates Shanahan as Pentagon chief Iran, Venezuela puts spotlight on Trump adviser John Bolton 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 McCaskillBig Dem names show little interest in Senate Gillibrand, Grassley reintroduce campus sexual assault bill Endorsements? Biden can't count on a flood from the Senate MORE (D-Mo.) lost to Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), while Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyObama honors 'American statesman' Richard Lugar Former GOP senator Richard Lugar dies at 87 Ralph Reed: Biden is a 'formidable and strong candidate' MORE (D-Ind.) lost to GOP businessman Mike Braun.

Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonRepublicans amp up attacks on Tlaib's Holocaust comments The muscle for digital payment Rubio says hackers penetrated Florida elections systems 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 KaineThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — McConnell, Kaine offer bill to raise tobacco buying age to 21 | Measles outbreak spreads to 24 states | Pro-ObamaCare group launches ad blitz to protect Dems McConnell, Kaine introduce bill to raise tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21 MORE (D-Va.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandO'Rourke says he would 'absolutely' do Fox News town hall Gillibrand 'very unhappy' with 'Game of Thrones' finale Gillibrand endorses DC statehood: Democracy doesn't mean 'for some of us' MORE (D-N.Y.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Memo: Trump faces steep climb to reelection Feehery: A whole new season of 'Game of Thrones' Overnight Energy: Warren wants Dems to hold climate-focused debate | Klobuchar joins candidates rejecting fossil fuel money | 2020 contender Bennet offers climate plan MORE (D-Mass.).

 

Cruz beats O'Rourke: House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeOvernight Energy: Warren wants Dems to hold climate-focused debate | Klobuchar joins candidates rejecting fossil fuel money | 2020 contender Bennet offers climate plan O'Rourke says he would 'absolutely' do Fox News town hall CNN announces four more town halls featuring 2020 Dems MORE (D) was not able to best Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz slams Jim Carrey's 'vicious, angry' painting of Alabama governor after abortion ban Eye-popping number of Dems: I can beat Trump 'SleepyCreepy Joe' and 'Crazy Bernie': Trump seeks to define 2020 Dems with insults 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 McSallyBolton emerges as flashpoint in GOP debate on Iran Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law McSally to introduce military sexual assault reform bill 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 RussellThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority 5 themes to watch for in 2020 fight for House Oklahoma New Members 2019 MORE (R-Okla.), who lost in a reliably red district to Democrat Kendra Horn.

Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard Coffman20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform Denver Post editorial board says Gardner endorsement was 'mistake' Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign 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 HunterHouse ethics panel renews probes into three GOP lawmakers GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter accused of violating 'parole' after pretending to cross US-Mexico border Challenger outraises embattled California rep ahead of 2020 rematch 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) TesterGOP angst grows amid Trump trade war Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Pentagon approves transfer of .5B to border wall | Dems blast move | House Dem pushes Pelosi to sue over Trump's Yemen veto Pentagon approves transfer of .5B to Trump border wall from Afghan forces, other accounts 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 PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget Tensions swirl around Iran as administration to brief Congress Overnight Defense: Iran tensions swirl as officials prepare to brief Congress | Trump threatens war would be 'end of Iran' | Graham tells Trump to 'stand firm' | Budget talks begin 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 MattisPentagon reporters left in dark as Iran tensions escalate Trump officials slow-walk president's order to cut off Central American aid: report Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Trump nominates Shanahan as Pentagon chief | House panel advances bill to block military funds for border wall | Trump defends Bolton despite differences 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 ThornberryOvernight Defense: Congressional leaders receive classified briefing on Iran | Trump on war: 'I hope not' | Key Republican calls threats credible | Warren plan targets corporate influence at Pentagon Key Republican 'convinced' Iran threats are credible Overnight Defense: Trump seeks 7M for Pentagon in .5B border funding request | US general says focus in Venezuela is on intel | Biden backs ending US support for Saudi-led war in Yemen 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