Overnight Defense: Trump seeks $750B for defense in 2020 budget | Lawmakers invite NATO chief to address Congress | Top envoy says North Korea denuclearization can't be done 'incrementally'

Overnight Defense: Trump seeks $750B for defense in 2020 budget | Lawmakers invite NATO chief to address Congress | Top envoy says North Korea denuclearization can't be done 'incrementally'
© Greg Nash

Happy Monday 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: President TrumpDonald John TrumpFed saw risks to US economy fading before coronavirus spread quickened Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Britain announces immigration policy barring unskilled migrants MORE's fiscal year 2020 budget has landed.

The White House released Trump's proposal Monday, and as expected, it calls for a big boost to defense spending while slashing non-defense.

Also as expected, it does not have any shot of getting through Congress, as Democrats who control the House quickly came out against it.


But the blueprint lays out what the president's priorities will be for the year and could set the stage for a shutdown fight in the fall.

Here's a look at what in the budget for defense:

The big numbers: The topline for defense, as promised, is $750 billion.

Recall that in budget-speak, defense refers to both the Pentagon and non-Pentagon defense programs such as the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons funds.

Of the $750 billion, $718 billion is for the Pentagon.

The topline includes $165 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. OCO is theoretically a war fund only to be used for temporary expenses, though over the years it has increasingly been used for base budget items since it is not subject to cap budget caps.

But the Trump administration is relying on OCO even more than has become normal, using the account to skirt budget caps and avoid having to make a deal with Democrats to also raise nondefense spending.

The defense budget also includes $9 billion in "emergency" funds. Some of those funds are to help rebuild military facilities battered by hurricanes. But most of the emergency funds are meant for Trump's proposed border wall.

The administration is requesting $3.6 billion in military construction funds for the wall, as well as money to backfill the $3.6 billion Trump plans to take as part of his national emergency declaration.

Other numbers: The budget also proposes a 3.1 percent pay raise for U.S. troops.

The summary released Monday also says the budget funds an end strength of 2,140,300 active and reserve military personnel, 12 battle force ships and 110 fighter aircraft.

It also "completes development and production of the W76-2 warhead," which is the so-called low-yield nuclear warhead the administration is building.

Congressional reaction: Democrats unsurprisingly slammed the cuts on the domestic side, with House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDon't let 'welfare for all' advocates derail administration's food stamp program reforms Hillicon Valley: Officials worry about Nevada caucus technology after Iowa | Pelosi joins pressure campaign on Huawei | Workers at Kickstarter vote to unionize | Bezos launches B climate initiative Pelosi joins pressure campaign on Huawei MORE (D-Calif.) pledging House Democrats who control the chamber "will reject this toxic, destructive budget request."

From defense hawks, there were cheers about the topline $750 billion figure. In his statement, House Armed Services Committee ranking member Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryOvernight Defense: Dem senator met with Iranian foreign minister | Meeting draws criticism from right | Lawmakers push back at Pentagon funding for wall Lawmakers push back at Trump's Pentagon funding grab for wall US defense chief says Taliban deal 'looks very promising' but not without risk MORE (R-Texas) called $750 billion "the minimum needed to continue to repair our military and defend the country."

He also implicitly dismissed the idea of putting as much money in the OCO account as in the budget proposal.

"We also cannot allow ourselves to become distracted by the construction of the budget request. The Congress ultimately determines funding levels," Thornberry said in his statement. "Our duty is clear, and it is our job to follow through and ensure we give our all-volunteer force the resources and authorities they need to accomplish the missions the nation asks of them. Again, this total level of spending, however it is constructed, is the minimum we need to provide if we are to fulfill our responsibilities."

Over the weekend, we also took at a look at how the OCO request and wall fight will affect this year's defense budget negotiations. Catch up on that here.

More to come: The Pentagon's slate of budget briefings is Tuesday, so more specifics on things like what types of ships and planes are funded will come then.

The department-wide budget briefing starts at noon, followed by the Army at 12:50 p.m., the Navy at 1:40 p.m., the Air Force at 2:30 p.m. and the Missile Defense Agency at 3:20 p.m.

Watch it all live at defense.gov/live.


NATO LEADER INVITED TO CONGRESS: Congressional leaders on Monday invited the head of NATO to address a joint session next month.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKentucky state official says foreign adversaries 'routinely' scan election systems Don't let 'welfare for all' advocates derail administration's food stamp program reforms Whistleblower retaliation: Stop confusing unlawful attacks with politics MORE (R-Ky.) agreed to invite NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg around the pact's 70th anniversary on Wednesday, April 3 at 11 a.m. The address will come a day before the  alliance's 70th anniversary on April 4.

Stoltenberg's visit will offer members of Congress the opportunity to show bipartisan support for NATO. But it also gives Stoltenberg a chance to rebut any criticisms from Trump and make the case for the importance of the alliance.

Context: Trump has repeatedly rattled allies since taking office over his demands for them to pay more for their defense or else the United States might withdraw from the alliance.

The most recent heartburn for allies is a plan, first reported by Bloomberg, for Trump to ask countries to pay the full price of basing U.S. troops in their country, plus a 50 percent premium.

Congress, in turn, has sought to signal its continued strong support for the alliance.

Pelosi recently visited Brussels, where the alliance is headquartered, in February as part of a congressional delegation and met with NATO leadership, including Stoltenberg.

The House passed a resolution in January to reaffirm bipartisan support for the alliance, with only 22 conservative Republicans in opposition.

The Senate also passed a resolution in support of NATO last July ahead of Trump's visit to the annual NATO summit in Brussels. It also came ahead of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, days later.

Stoltenberg, meanwhile, has taken pains not to get on Trump's bad side, repeatedly crediting him with allies' increased defense spending.

Timing: Stoltenberg is scheduled to chair a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at the State Department on April 3 and 4 to mark the alliance's 70th anniversary.

If he accepts the congressional invitation, Stoltenberg would deliver the first joint address to Congress since Pelosi returned to the Speaker's Office in January.


TRUMP SHIFTING ON NORTH KOREA?: Trump's special envoy for North Korea negotiations gave his first public remarks Monday since Trump's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month ended without the deal.

During the address, special envoy Stephen Biegun made clear the Trump administration will not accept a phased approach for North Korea's denuclearization.

"We are not going to do denuclearization incrementally," Biegun said at the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference. "The president has been clear on that, and that is a position around which the U.S. government has complete unity."

A hardening or not?: His comments appear to be a shift from a speech he made prior to Trump and Kim's Hanoi, Vietnam, summit in which he said, "We are prepared to discuss many actions that could help build trust between our two countries."

Still, Biegun on Monday denied a hardening of the U.S. approach to North Korea.

"The Trump administration position has not hardened," he said.

What's up at Sohae: Biegun's remarks come as post-Hanoi headlines rack up about North Korea rebuilding the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in what analysts say is an apparent message to the United States.

Kim agreed to dismantle the site at the first summit with Trump in Singapore last year and began doing so after the meeting. But commercial satellite imagery taken after the Hanoi summit shows the site is back to operational status.

The latest images, taken Friday and released Saturday, show activities that could be consistent with preparations for a satellite rocket launch, according to an analysis by the Center for Strategic and International Studies's Beyond Parallel program.

In Monday's remarks, Biegun said the United States does not know what Kim's intention is regarding activity at Sohae.

"The short answer is, we don't know," he said. "We don't know that it's intended to send any particular statement to us."

Catch up: The Hill's Ellen Mitchell took a look over the weekend at how issues including Sohae have caused tensions to bubble up since Hanoi. Read up here.


PENTAGON STARTING INF-BANNED WORK: The Pentagon on Monday announced the first work it's going to do that would be out of compliance with a treaty Trump suspended last month.

Specifically, a Pentagon spokeswoman said the department will start work on making parts for ground-launched cruise missile systems.

The Pentagon "will commence fabrication activities on components to support developmental testing of these systems - activities that until February 2 would have been inconsistent with our obligations under the treaty," Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza said in a statement.

Baldanza also stressed that the efforts are "conventional only -- not nuclear."

Background: Trump announced last month he was suspending U.S. obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and starting the six-month process to officially withdraw from the pact.

The 1987 accord bans the United States and Russia from having nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles.

The United States has accused Russia of violating the treaty for years with its 9M729 cruise missile.

Russia denies that it is in violation of the treaty and says instead that it is the United States that violated it with a missile defense system in Europe. The U.S. holds the system is purely defensive, and so complies with the agreement.

The Pentagon first began research and development on a missile that would fall within the INF Treaty in 2017. But up until now, it has stressed that the research and development itself was in compliance with the treaty.



House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Dem senator met with Iranian foreign minister | Meeting draws criticism from right | Lawmakers push back at Pentagon funding for wall Lawmakers push back at Trump's Pentagon funding grab for wall Top Armed Services Republican: Pentagon using .8B on border wall 'requires Congress to take action' MORE (D-Wash.) will give a keynote speech at the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference at 8:45 a.m. https://bit.ly/2HnzAFC

The House Appropriations Committee subpanel in charge of State Department funding will hear testimony about the budget from outside groups at 10 a.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2008. https://bit.ly/2UwUy8W

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for the nominees to be ambassadors to Ecuador and El Salvador at 10 a.m. at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 419. https://bit.ly/2J5U1cT

A House Armed Services subcommittee will hear from outside experts on military personnel policy at 2 p.m. at Rayburn 2212. https://bit.ly/2F3NwCf

A Senate Armed Services Committee subpanel will hold a hearing on the Pentagon's artificial intelligence initiatives at 2:30 p.m. at the Russell Senate Office Building, room 232A. https://bit.ly/2T3i9N6



-- The Hill: Bolton: Pakistan committed to de-escalating tensions with India

-- The Hill: Graham to push for US to recognize Golan Heights as part of Israel

-- The Hill: Opinion: Nuclear 'cruise control' can stop a spiraling new arms race

-- The Hill: Opinion: South Korea nudges Washington, Pyongyang to step back onto path to peace

-- Associated Press: Iran's Rouhani seeks to boost ties on first visit to Baghdad

-- The Washington Post: A remote bombing range on the border gets sized up for a piece of Trump's wall

-- The Wall Street Journal: North Korea eludes sanctions, buying oil and selling arms and coal, U.N. report finds