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 Defense: Pentagon waiting for Saudi assessment on attack | Defense bill talks begin | Border fight takes centerstage | Pentagon finalizes .5B in wall contracts | US withholds Afghan aid citing corruption House Armed Services panel gets classified briefing on Saudi attacks Negotiators kick off defense bill talks amid border wall, Iran debates 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 TrumpTrump's top adviser on Asia to serve as deputy national security adviser United Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Trump doubles down on call to investigate Biden after whistleblower complaint: 'That's the real story' MORE's plans to expand and modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

The Senate results, meanwhile, mean that Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeNegotiators kick off defense bill talks amid border wall, Iran debates House rejects GOP motion on replacing Pentagon funding used on border wall Republicans wary of US action on Iran 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 McCaskillEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Ocasio-Cortez blasts NYT editor for suggesting Tlaib, Omar aren't representative of Midwest Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (D-Mo.) lost to Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), while Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyLobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries MORE (D-Ind.) lost to GOP businessman Mike Braun.

Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonMedia and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity Al Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Democrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 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 KaineDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Missouri Republican wins annual craft brewing competition for lawmakers Sen. Kaine: No reason for US to 'engage in military action to protect Saudi oil' MORE (D-Va.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandNew Hampshire feels overlooked in Democratic presidential race Booker aide sounds alarm about campaign's funding O'Rourke gun confiscation talk alarms Democrats MORE (D-N.Y.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenUnited Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Omar: Biden not the candidate to 'tackle a lot of the systematic challenges that we have' Seven takeaways from a busy Democratic presidential campaign weekend in Iowa MORE (D-Mass.).

 

Cruz beats O'Rourke: House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeSeven takeaways from a busy Democratic presidential campaign weekend in Iowa FBI: Arson attacks directed at three Catholic churches in El Paso Toomey on gun reform: 'Beto O'Rourke is not helping' MORE (D) was not able to best Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump walks tightrope on gun control State Department's top arms control official leaving Sanders NASA plan is definitely Earth first 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 McSallyArizona Democrats push Sinema censure vote off until January Pence taps former DHS spokeswoman as his new press secretary Arizona Democratic Party will hold vote to censure Sinema 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 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 Duane HunterIssa's Senate confirmation hearing delayed over concerns about background check Can Carl DeMaio save the California GOP? The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate 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) TesterDemocratic senators quietly hope Biden wins over rivals GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson to resign at end of year Native American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment 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: Countries should reject China's demands to repatriate Uighurs Trump says he will consider releasing transcript of Ukraine call White House officials, Giuliani come to Trump's defense on Ukraine allegations 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 MattisClimate change threatens the backbone of America's global power The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico Trump needs a national security adviser who 'speaks softly' 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 ThornberryNegotiators kick off defense bill talks amid border wall, Iran debates Defense bill talks set to start amid wall fight House rejects GOP motion on replacing Pentagon funding used on border wall 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