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 MattisThreatening foreign states with sanctions can backfire Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Amazon to challenge Pentagon's 'war cloud' decision in federal court MORE was no different from President TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report 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 SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP 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 cancels presser, cuts short NATO trip | Viral video catches leaders appearing to gossip about Trump | Dem witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses | Trump reportedly mulling more troops in Middle East House leaders: Trump administration asking South Korea to pay more for US troops 'a needless wedge' Congress braces for chaotic December 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 ThornberryOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pentagon watchdog says Syria withdrawal hurt ISIS fight | Vindman testifies on third day of public hearings | Lawmakers to wrap up defense bill talks this week Lawmakers expect to finish defense policy bill negotiations this week Impeachment battle looms over must-pass defense bill 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 CramerTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Schumer briefs Democrats on impeachment trial 'mechanics' Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators MORE (N.D.) Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyLobbying world Senate roundtable showcases importance and needs of women entrepreneurs GOP braces for Democratic spending onslaught in battle for Senate MORE (Ariz.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnHillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware Senators inch forward on federal privacy bill Director of National Intelligence Maguire should stand for the whistleblower MORE (Tenn.) and Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleySenate confirms Trump pick labeled 'not qualified' by American Bar Association House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Senate approves stopgap bill to prevent shutdown MORE (Mo.).

They replace Republican Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSanders meets with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Cruz knocks Chick-fil-A over past donation: It has 'lost its way' Overnight Energy: Relocated BLM staff face salary cuts | UN report calls for drastic action on climate change | California asks EPA to reconsider emissions rule MORE (Texas), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans GOP member urges Graham to subpoena Schiff, Biden phone records Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators MORE (S.C.), Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseFCC votes to bar use of its funds to purchase Huawei, ZTE equipment Senate approves stopgap bill to prevent shutdown Trump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition MORE (Neb.) and Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSenate roundtable showcases importance and needs of women entrepreneurs Donald Trump does not understand manufacturing Senate approves stopgap bill to prevent shutdown 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 RomneyRepublicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Mellman: The 'lane theory' is the wrong lane to be in Romney: 'No evidence' Ukraine meddled in 2016 election 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