Overnight Defense: Officials expect to pull out of arms treaty with Russia | Senate rejects two spending measures on Day 34 of shutdown | CBO puts cost of US nuke arsenal at $494B over next decade

Overnight Defense: Officials expect to pull out of arms treaty with Russia | Senate rejects two spending measures on Day 34 of shutdown | CBO puts cost of US nuke arsenal at $494B over next decade
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Happy Thursday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Ellen Mitchell, 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: A top State Department official said Thursday that the Trump administration does not expect Russia to meet a deadline to destroy a disputed missile, adding the U.S. will pull out of a key Cold War-era treaty if Moscow fails to meet the deadline.


Andrea Thompson, undersecretary of State for arms control and international security, told reporters that she's "not particularly optimistic" that Russia will comply with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

What the U.S wants: The U.S. has demanded that Russia destroy a disputed missile by Feb. 2 in order to remain in compliance with the pact, which bans all land-based missiles with ranges of 310 to 3,106 miles. The treaty was signed between Moscow and Washington in 1987.

Thompson said Thursday that the Trump administration will "suspend our obligations" under the treaty should Russia not return to compliance by the end of next week.

The background: President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls Sri Lankan prime minister following church bombings Ex-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' The biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone MORE said in October that the U.S. would withdraw from the treaty after his administration accused Russia of violating the deal.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Mueller report is a deterrent to government service Israel praises Trump on ending Iran oil sanction waivers Pompeo blames 'Islamic radical terror' for Sri Lanka attacks MORE then announced in December that the U.S. would give Russia 60 days to come back into compliance, but said that if Moscow did not, Washington would begin the six-month process of fully withdrawing.

Talks going nowhere: Thompson, who last week returned from talks between the two nations in Geneva, said there has been no final decision on whether Washington intends to fully pull out. She noted that if the U.S. did, the suspension is "reversible" within the six months.

The State Department official said talks between her group and the Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov were "professional," but "didn't break any new ground."

"It wasn't the normal bluster, propaganda, the kind of dramatics that associate some of these meetings," Thompson said. "But ... there was no new information. The Russians acknowledged having the system but continued to say in their talking points it didn't violate the INF treaty despite showing them, repeated times, the intelligence and information" the U.S. had collected. 

US may make one last push: The United States has also offered to hold arms control talks with Russia during a United Nations meeting in Beijing next week, but Thompson said she does not expect much from such a discussion.

"I've told the deputy foreign minister if and when it's appropriate and they have tangible next steps, that I'm willing to talk," she said. "But to come to the table and hear the same story line from the past five years isn't a productive use of our time."


SHUTDOWN DAY 34: With the partial government shutdown tipping into another day, the White House made another offer that was quickly brushed aside by Congress.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiTrump pushes back on impeachment talk: 'Tables are finally turning on the Witch Hunt!' Moulton enters 2020 White House race Trump takes aim at Dem talk of impeachment MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday rejected President Trump's proposal for a "down payment" on a border wall as a condition to reopen the government.

Walking off the House floor, Pelosi said the proposal is "not a reasonable" one.

Moments earlier, Trump had told reporters at the White House that he had a number of "alternatives" for reopening the government with funding for his border wall. Among them, he said, is demanding that Democrats agree to "some sort of pro-rated down payment on the wall." He did not put a figure on the request.

"We have to have the wall," Trump said.

Earlier: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Mueller report is a deterrent to government service Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Anti-smoking advocates question industry motives for backing higher purchasing age MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars Dem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage Former FBI official praises Barr for 'professional' press conference MORE (D-N.Y.) had huddled in the Capitol shortly before Trump spoke.

The Senate had just rejected two competing bills to reopen the government -- one championed by Republicans and the other by Democrats -- and the party leaders are searching for a path forward.

Trump, asked if he would support a hypothetical McConnell-Schumer compromise, was elusive.

"If they come to a reasonable agreement I would support it, yes," he said.

A refresher: The back-and-forth came on day 34 of the budget impasse, which has denied funding for roughly a quarter of the federal government, including the Department of Homeland Security.

Trump has insisted that any spending package include $5.7 billion for new construction of a wall on the U.S. Mexico border he'd promised voters during the 2016 campaign.

Democrats have countered with billions of dollars for border security measures -- including stronger surveillance technologies, more immigration judges and new roads -- but have rejected any funding for extending existing border walls.

Expected Friday: On Friday morning, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders are expected to release an outline of their own homeland security plan, which is expected to match Trump's $5.7 billion figure for the southern border -- without a wall.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTelehealth is calling — will Congress pick up? GOP grows tired of being blindsided by Trump Hillicon Valley: Assange faces US charges after arrest | Trump says WikiLeaks 'not my thing' | Uber officially files to go public | Bezos challenges retail rivals on wages | Kremlin tightens its control over internet MORE (R-S.D.), the majority whip, said Thursday's Senate votes, despite the failure of both measures, will jump-start "earnest" negotiations after weeks of tension and bitter deadlock between the parties.


NUCLEAR ARSENAL TO COST $494B IN NEXT 10 YEARS: Updating and maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal is projected to cost nearly $500 billion over the next 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said in a report published Thursday.

Major price tag increases: The $494 billion price tag for U.S. nuclear forces from fiscal years 2019 to 2028 is a $94 billion increase from the last CBO 10-year cost estimate two years ago.

A little more than half of the increase comes from the fact that the new report covers the years 2027 and 2028, when modernization programs will be further along and thus more expensive, according to CBO.


But the new estimate also reflects the Trump administration's Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which was released in February 2018 and calls for several new capabilities.

What's causing the hike: Specifically, the nuclear policy outline called for so-called low yield warheads and a new sea-launched cruise missile.

The warhead is projected to cost $65 million for the Department of Energy to produce and $50 million for the Pentagon to make changes necessary to use the bomb on its submarines, according to CBO.

Plans for the sea-launched cruise missile are still being formulated, but CBO estimated it would cost about $9 billion from 2019 to 2028. 



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-- Defense News: Here's why 22 Republicans voted against blocking Trump from NATO pullout