Overnight Defense: Appeals court sides with Trump on transgender military ban | Trump threatens years-long shutdown | Trump floats declaring national emergency to build wall with military

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. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

 

THE TOPLINE: The Trump administration got a win Friday in the ongoing legal saga over its transgender military ban.

But the policy still can't go into effect right now.

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The win came at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where a three-judge panel overturned a lower court's injunction on the policy.

But several other courts have also issued injunctions against the ban, which is why it still can't take effect.

What the court said: The appeals court panel ruled that District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly made a "clear error" in deciding that the injunction should stay in place because a plan from former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Dems tee up Tuesday vote against Trump's emergency declaration | GOP expects few defections | Trump doubles number of troops staying in Syria to 400 Trump administration ups to 400 number of troops staying behind in Syria Kurdish-led Syrian administration cheers Trump decision to leave troops in region MORE was no different from President TrumpDonald John TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border MORE's policy.

Mattis' March 2018 plan would allow transgender people to serve if they do so in their biological sex.

The appeals court said Mattis' plan was not "foreordained" by Trump because it took into account a panel of military and medical experts, evidence from the implementation of the open service policy and "a reassessment of the priorities of the group that produced" the open service policy.

The appeals court also agreed with the administration that the Mattis plan is not a blanket ban.

"Although the Mattis plan continues to bar many transgender persons from joining or serving in the military, the record indicates that the plan allows some transgender persons barred under the military's standards prior to the [open service policy] to join and serve in the military," the judges wrote.

More to come: The appeals court didn't rule on the merits of the case, just the injunction. So the underlying case still has to be decided by the district court.

And the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), vowed to keep fighting.

"Today's ruling is a devastating slap in the face to transgender service members who have proved their fitness to serve and their dedication to this country," NCLR legal director Shannon Minter said in a statement. "We will keep fighting this cruel and irrational policy, which serves no purpose other than to weaken the military and punish transgender service members for their patriotism and service."

The Trump administration has also already asked the Supreme Court to leapfrog regular judicial order and immediately take up the case. The high court has yet to decide whether it will do so.

 

SHUTDOWN DAY 14: Another White House meeting appears to have done little to end the partial government shutdown.

And now President Trump is threatening to keep about 25 percent of the federal government closed for years until he gets his desired funding to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

He made the remark during a closed-door meeting at the White House with congressional leaders on the 14th day of a partial government shutdown.

Trump confirmed after the meeting that he "absolutely" said the shutdown could last more than a year, as first noted by Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDon’t look for House GOP to defy Trump on border wall GOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win MORE (N.Y.) who was at the meeting.

The president added that he didn't think it would last that long, saying Democrats want to make a deal.

An emergency?: Trump has said multiple times before he wants to use the military to build the wall if Congress won't appropriate funding for it.

The problem with that is that Congress also needs to sign off on reprogramming funding for a purpose other than what it was originally approved for.

Trump now apparently thinks he can get around that if he officially declares a national emergency at the border.

ABC News first reported Trump was considering the strategy. Trump later told reporters in the Rose Garden that was the case.

"We can call a national emergency because of the security of our country, absolutely. We can do it. I haven't done it, I may do it. I may do it, but we can call a national emergency and build it quickly, it's another way of doing it," he said at a press conference.

"If we can do it through a negotiated process, we're giving that a shot," he added.

U.S. law allows for military construction projects in the event of a national emergency. But Trump could face political resistance for using military funding for the wall.

 

COMMITTEE SHUFFLE: With the 116th Congress sworn in, the makeup of the Armed Services committees is solidifying.

On Friday, Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall Dems demand briefing, intel on North Korea nuclear talks Trump’s state of emergency declaration imperils defense budget MORE (D-Wash.) announced that he has been officially chosen to serve as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee by the House Democratic Conference.

The news was expected since Smith was the panel's ranking member when Democrats were in the minority. Friday's announcement just makes it official.

"This is an extremely challenging time for our country and the world. We are in dire need of oversight from Congress and principled, coherent thinking on U.S. national defense strategy," Smith said in a statement.

"As chairman, I will work with my colleagues to promote transparency and congressional oversight, enhance military readiness, combat inefficiency and waste at DOD, advance green technology in defense and address the threat climate change poses to our national security, fight for an inclusive military, and move towards a responsible approach to nuclear weapons."

Smith also pledged to continue the committee's "long track record" of bipartisanship and work with now-ranking member Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryDon’t look for House GOP to defy Trump on border wall Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for Trump's border wall Overnight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants MORE (R-Texas).

In the Senate: On Thursday evening, Senate Republicans announced their committee assignments, which are expected to be ratified next week by the Republican Conference and full Senate.

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The Senate Armed Services Committee is getting five new Republican members: Sens. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenators highlight threat from invasive species Overnight Defense: Top general wasn't consulted on Syria withdrawal | Senate passes bill breaking with Trump on Syria | What to watch for in State of the Union | US, South Korea reach deal on troop costs GOP senators think Trump would win vote on emergency declaration MORE (N.D.) Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyArmy calls base housing hazards 'unconscionable,' details steps to protect families Poll shows McSally, Kelly tied in Arizona Senate race Mark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid MORE (Ariz.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTrump’s new Syria timetable raises concern among key anti-ISIS allies Dem lawmaker invites Parkland survivor to attend State of the Union Bipartisan senators press Trump for strategy to protect Syrian Kurds MORE (Tenn.) and Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyWhite House braces for Mueller report Google calls failure to disclose hidden microphone 'an error' Senators demand answers from Facebook on paying teens for data MORE (Mo.).

They replace Republican Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzInviting Kim Jong Un to Washington Trump endorses Cornyn for reelection as O'Rourke mulls challenge O’Rourke not ruling out being vice presidential candidate MORE (Texas), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump says he'll '100 percent' veto measure blocking emergency declaration Overnight Defense: Dems tee up Tuesday vote against Trump's emergency declaration | GOP expects few defections | Trump doubles number of troops staying in Syria to 400 On The Money: Dems set Tuesday vote on Trump's emergency declaration | Most Republicans expected to back Trump | Senate plots to avoid fall shutdown drama | Powell heading before Congress MORE (S.C.), Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseThe Hill's Morning Report — Emergency declaration to test GOP loyalty to Trump Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Push for cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill | Court lets Dems defend ObamaCare | Flu season not as severe as last year, CDC says Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown MORE (Neb.) and Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Senate passes bill to make lynching a federal crime Partnerships paving the way to sustain and support Historically Black Colleges and Universities MORE (S.C.) and former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

Graham and Cruz, though, won't be far removed national security issues. They're both joining the Foreign Relations Committee, which will also include new Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Hill's Morning Report — Emergency declaration to test GOP loyalty to Trump Don’t look for House GOP to defy Trump on border wall GOP lawmaker comes out against Trump's emergency declaration MORE (R-Utah).

 

ON TAP FOR MONDAY

The Brookings Institution will host an expert panel on the New START Treaty at 2 p.m. https://brook.gs/2CLAnO7

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: Senate poised to rebut Trump on Syria

-- The Hill: DHS requesting more troops at border: report

-- The Hill: Bipartisan bill proposes new White House office to fight Chinese technology threats

-- Military Times: As shutdown continues, lawmakers look for fix on Coast Guard pay

-- Associated Press: US says airstrike targeted militant tied to USS Cole bombing

-- Bloomberg: Top Trump aides rush to reassure U.S. allies in Middle East