Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Lawmakers struggle with how to punish Saudi Arabia | Trump regrets not visiting Arlington for Veterans Day | North Korea deports detained American

Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Lawmakers struggle with how to punish Saudi Arabia | Trump regrets not visiting Arlington for Veterans Day | North Korea deports detained American
© Anna Moneymaker

Happy Friday 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.

Programming note: Overnight Defense will be on hiatus next week. We will return Nov. 26. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

THE TOPLINE: Congress got back in town Tuesday after the midterm elections and is out of town next week for Thanksgiving.

But lawmakers managed to squeeze in some defense work in the week they were here.

Here's a quick recap of the past week in case you missed it:

Saudi Arabia/Yemen/Bahrain: Lawmakers returned to town with the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi still on their minds.

In the Senate, a bipartisan group of six senators introduced a bill Thursday aimed at forcing President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Ayers decision casts harsh light on Trump NASA offers to show Stephen Curry evidence from moon landings Freedom Caucus calls on leadership to include wall funding, end to 'catch and release' in funding bill MORE to do more to punish Saudi Arabia and end the Yemen civil war, in which Saudi Arabia is a main party.

The bill was introduced after the Trump administration announced sanctions against 17 Saudis for their alleged role in Khashoggi's death.

A bipartisan trio of senators are also planning to introduce a resolution to cut U.S. military support to the Saudis in Yemen after Thanksgiving.

Though senators want to punish Saudi Arabia and end the Yemen war, they were unconvinced by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLimited Senate access to CIA intelligence is not conspiracy Dems have new moniker for Trump: ‘Unindicted co-conspirator' Rand Paul downplays potential Trump campaign finance violations: 'We’ve over-criminalized campaign finance' MORE's (R-Ky.) argument that blocking an arms sale to Bahrain was the way to do that. The chamber easily rejected Paul's resolution to block the sale.

In the House, Republicans blocked a vote on a resolution to end U.S. military involvement in Yemen. The resolution was introduced before the Khashoggi crisis, but became tied to lawmakers' response. Democrats have promised to revive the issue when they control the House in January.

Border deployment: Trump may have stopped talking about the migrant caravan heading to the U.S.-Mexico border since the midterm elections, but the U.S. military is still down there.

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Dunford expected to finish Joint Chiefs term | House lawmakers pushing for Yemen vote | Pentagon says a few hundred troops leaving border Pentagon to begin withdrawing hundreds of active duty troops at border Trump, in reversal, calls for Pentagon to raise budget request to 0B: reports MORE visited the border this week and defended the deployment, saying it provided good training. He also compared it to the 1916 border deployment to counter the late Mexican revolutionary Gen. Francisco "Pancho" Villa.

The deployment also appears to be winding down soon. The Pentagon's No. 2 civilian told reporters that the number of troops heading south has "pretty much peaked" at 5,800. The commander in charge of the mission also told Reuters he would begin looking next week at sending forces home.

Strategy warning: The National Defense Strategy Commission released its final report Wednesday and it's likely to become a fixture in next year's defense budget fight.

The report warns U.S. military superiority "has eroded to a dangerous degree," adding that there will be "grave and lasting" consequences if Washington doesn't act quickly to reverse the damage and adequately fund the Pentagon.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeTrump ultimatum sparks fears of new arms race Trump, in reversal, calls for Pentagon to raise budget request to 0B: reports Inhofe tells military crowd: 'Don't trust the media' MORE (R-Okla.) responded to the report by saying it's findings are "why I believe the $733 billion defense budget originally proposed by President Trump for fiscal year 2020 should be considered a floor, not a ceiling, for funding our troops."

Pentagon audit: Speaking of money, the Pentagon failed it's first ever audit, an outcome that could also become fixture in next year's budget debate.

"We never thought we were going to pass an audit," Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters. "Everyone was betting against us that we wouldn't even do the audit."

The audit, which began in December of 2017, took nearly a year to complete and cost $367 million.

 

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A RARE TRUMP REGRET: Trump did not visit Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day on Monday.

The cemetery's Veterans Day ceremony was Sunday, when Trump was in Paris, and Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie spoke.

But Trump took some heat for not visiting the next day, especially since he had no public events on his schedule.

Now, Trump is expressing regret, a rare thing for him

"I should have done that," Trump said during an interview set to air on "Fox News Sunday."

"I was extremely busy on calls for the country, we did a lot of calling as you know," he told Fox News's Chris Wallace.

"In retrospect I should have and I did last year and I will virtually every year," Trump responded when asked why he did not go to the cemetery. "But we had come in very late at night and I had just left, literally, the American cemetery in Paris and I really probably assumed that was fine."

Reminder: Trump also came under fire for skipping a cemetery visit while in Paris. Trump opted not to go to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery on Saturday because rain prevented Marine One from taking him. He did go to Suresnes American Cemetery on Sunday.

 

AMERICAN FREED: An American citizen detained in North Korea last month for illegally entering the country is being deported.

The Korean Central News Agency said that the man was detained on Oct. 16 for trying to cross into North Korea illegally from China. They did not announce his name or why he was being released.

Amid stalked nuclear talks, the move could be a good-faith gesture in the vein of North Korea releasing three U.S. hostages earlier this year.

U.S. reaction: In a statement, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump shakes up staff with eye on 2020, Mueller probe Trump ultimatum sparks fears of new arms race Paul calls Trump's pick for attorney general's views on surveillance 'very troubling' MORE expressed appreciation for the American's release.

"The United States appreciates the cooperation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the embassy of Sweden in facilitating the release of an American citizen," Pompeo said Friday. "The United States is grateful for the sustained support of Sweden, our protecting power in North Korea, for its advocacy on behalf of American citizens. The safety and well-being of Americans remains one of the highest priorities of the Trump administration."

Timing: While the deportation may be intended as a good-faith gesture, recall that North Korea also boasted about testing a new "ultramodern tactical weapon" on the same day.

 

ON TAP FOR MONDAY

The U.S. Institute for Peace will host a panel, in partnership with U.S. Central Command, on the status of the peace process in Afghanistan at 11 a.m. https://bit.ly/2DFSAOV

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: French minister warns US-China tensions could escalate into Cold War

-- The Hill: Trump: China is eager to make a deal on trade

-- The Hill: Trump signs bill cementing cybersecurity agency at DHS

-- The Hill: US negotiating 'potential resolution' in case against accused Russian agent

-- The Hill: Judge rules veterans with PTSD can move forward with lawsuit over VA benefits

-- Reuters: Pentagon report on Turkey's F-35 program delivered to Congress

-- Stars and Stripes: Families of slain Green Berets sue Jordan, charging a cover-up attempt in 2016 deaths

-- Associated Press: In Yemen, a race to save a boy from al-Qaeda and a US drone