Overnight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget

Overnight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget
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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: The Senate voted on Thursday to nix President TrumpDonald John TrumpHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Countdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Omar: White supremacist attacks are rising because Trump publicly says 'Islam hates us' MORE's national emergency declaration to construct the U.S.-Mexico border wall, setting up the first veto battle with his White House.

Senators voted 59-41 to pass the resolution of disapproval blocking Trump's declaration. Underscoring the broad base of concern over Trump's actions within the Republican caucus, 12 GOP senators broke rank and voted with all the Democrats.

The measure passed the House last month, 245-182.

Trump's first veto ahead: The resolution now heads to Trump's desk, where he is expected to use the first veto of his presidency to defeat it. Neither chamber has the votes to override the president, who tweeted shortly after the vote was closed: "VETO!"

No success in last ditch effort: Trump made an eleventh hour plea to Republican senators, reiterating his pledge to veto the resolution and signaling he could be open to future changes to his emergency powers, and even accusing Republicans who voted "yes" of standing with House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Omar controversies shadow Dems at AIPAC Five things to watch as AIPAC conference kicks off MORE (D-Calif.).

"Prominent legal scholars agree that our actions to address the National Emergency at the Southern Border and to protect the American people are both CONSTITUTIONAL and EXPRESSLY authorized by Congress." Trump said in a string of tweets.

But that argument failed to squash the momentum behind the resolution, which garnered support from various factions of the GOP caucus, including moderates, members of leadership and libertarian-leaning senators. 

Breaking ranks: The vote marks a significant setback for Trump, who has made his pledge to build the wall a focal point of his presidency. And it's the second rebuke for Trump in as many days after the Senate broke with him on support for Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

Republicans have been wary of breaking with Trump on border security but raised significant concerns about separation of powers questions sparked by his emergency declaration. GOP supporters of the resolution, such as Maine Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate GOP poised to go 'nuclear' on Trump picks Overnight Health Care: CDC pushes for expanding HIV testing, treatment | Dem group launches ads attacking Trump on Medicare, Medicaid cuts | Hospitals, insurers spar over surprise bills | O'Rourke under pressure from left on Medicare for all Dem group launches ads attacking Trump's 'hypocrisy on Medicare and Medicaid cuts' MORE, cast their vote not as a rebuke of Trump's border wall but instead over a constitutional question about Congress's role in funding the government.

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderRomney helps GOP look for new path on climate change GOP eager to exploit Dem court-packing fight Overnight Health Care: Senators seek CBO input on preventing surprise medical bills | Oversight panel seeks OxyContin documents | Pharmacy middlemen to testify on prices | Watchdog warns air ambulances can put patients at 'financial risk' MORE (R-Tenn.), who is retiring at the end of the current Congress, argued that a vote against the emergency declaration was a "check on the executive [that] is a crucial source of our freedom."

In addition to Alexander and Collins, GOP Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeStop asking parents to sacrifice Social Security benefits for paid family leave The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over New Zealand coverage GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers MORE (Utah), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRed dresses displayed around American Indian museum to memorialize missing, murdered native women Juan Williams: Don't rule out impeaching Trump The 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration MORE (Alaska), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntRisk-averse Republicans are failing the republic Senate GOP poised to go 'nuclear' on Trump picks The Hill's Morning Report - Dems contemplate big election and court reforms MORE (Mo.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHillicon Valley: Mueller delivers report, ending investigation | FEMA exposed info of 2.3M disaster survivors | Facebook asks judge to toss DC privacy lawsuit | Trump picks his first CTO | FCC settles lawsuit over net neutrality records Transparency advocate says government agencies face 'use it or lose it' spending Republicans need solutions on environment too MORE (Ky.), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyOvernight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race MORE (Pa.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanTrump faces political risks in fight over GM plant GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers The 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration MORE (Ohio), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranThe 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration Overnight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget 12 Republican senators defy Trump on emergency declaration  MORE (Kan.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioCountdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Rubio wants 'all' of Mueller report made public including founding documents Rubio: Trump reversal on North Korea sanctions 'shouldn't have happened that way' MORE (Fla.), Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerJuan Williams: Don't rule out impeaching Trump The 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration Overnight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget MORE (Miss.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRomney helps GOP look for new path on climate change Former Bush adviser: Senate should reject Stephen Moore Trump's attacks on McCain exacerbate tensions with Senate GOP MORE (Utah) voted for the resolution blocking Trump's emergency declaration. 

 

SHANAHAN GRILLED ON BORDER WALL FUNDING: Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael Shanahan16 times Trump said ISIS was defeated, or soon would be Trump waiting on watchdog findings for Pentagon head: report Overnight Defense: Trump to reverse North Korea sanctions imposed by Treasury | Move sparks confusion | White House says all ISIS territory in Syria retaken | US-backed forces report heavy fighting | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan MORE was tested Thursday as Democratic senators grilled him on President Trump's plan to use military funding for his proposed border wall.

Shanahan sought to reassure senators on Trump's decision to declare a national emergency and use $3.6 billion in military construction funding for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

"Military construction on the border will not come at the expense of our people, our readiness, or our modernization," Shanahan told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

An audition for Trump? Shanahan was testifying at his first congressional hearing since becoming acting secretary, and his testimony was being viewed as a make-or-break moment in his audition to be nominated for the job permanently.

No military threat: Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) asked Shanahan during the hearing if he agreed with earlier testimony by the U.S. Northern Command chief that the situation at the southern border is not a "military threat."

"I agree with him," Shanahan responded.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, who testified alongside Shanahan, also said, "I agree."

"It's a security challenge, not a military threat," Dunford added.

Several other Democratic senators used their line of questioning to push Shanahan on the issue, including ranking member Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedOvernight Defense: Top Marine warns border deployment could hurt readiness | McSally aims for sexual assault reforms in defense bill | House to vote on measure opposing transgender ban | New warning over F-35 sale to Turkey Marine Corps commander: Using troops at southern border an 'unacceptable risk' to readiness Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief under investigation over Boeing ties | Trump uses visual aids to tout progress against ISIS | Pentagon, Amnesty International spar over civilian drone deaths MORE (D-R.I.), who in his opening statement said the wall has "arguably ... zero military utility."

No list, yet: Shanahan sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security last month asking for a list of projects that the Pentagon is being asked to support as part of the emergency declaration.

He told Reed on Thursday that he has not yet received a response, but that, "I expect that this week."

Reed shot back that for "an emergency, this seems to be a pretty casual approach to the issue."

Shanahan also told Reed that he does not yet have a "final list" of projects the Pentagon will take money from to reach the $3.6 billion being asked for by Trump.

Later in the hearing, Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingOvernight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget Shanahan grilled on Pentagon's border wall funding Senators offer bipartisan bill to fix 'retail glitch' in GOP tax law MORE (I-Maine), who caucuses with Democrats, said he finds it "hard to believe" there's no list.

"You've had a month," King said.

Reed also secured a commitment from Shanahan to deliver a list by the end of the day of all unobligated military construction funds to see what projects are at risk.

"I would like that list today, Mr. Secretary," Reed told Shanahan. "We'll have that list so that everyone will know what project they have to worry about going forward. Is that it? That's the deal?"

"That's the deal," Shanahan replied.

Kaine not pleased: Shanahan's commitment, though, raised the ire of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who has been asking service secretaries for the list since the declaration was made.

"I feel completely sandbagged," Kaine said. "You're going to send it to us today after the vote on the emergency declaration? ... This information is highly relevant to the senators who are voting on this emergency declaration because the question is, should the president be able to declare a nonmilitary emergency -- that's what the military has testified -- and then ransack the Pentagon budget."

Warren not pleased either: Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Biden, Sanders edge Trump in hypothetical 2020 matchups in Fox News poll Omar controversies shadow Dems at AIPAC MORE (D-Mass.), also provided some sharp questioning for Shanahan, pressing him on the Pentagon's request for $164 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) account in fiscal year 2020.

Shanahan denied that the Pentagon war fund has become a slush fund.

"What we're really talking about here is the establishment of a slush fund to hide what's happening with defense spending and get it out from underneath the statutory caps," Warren said.

"There is no slush fund," Shanahan replied.

Warren highlighted that the OCO request for fiscal 2020 is 140 percent higher than fiscal 2019's $69 billion for OCO.

"So tell me, did the cost of supporting our overseas operations suddenly increase by 140 percent last year?" she asked Shanahan.

"Senator, they did not," he replied.

 

 

PENTAGON CHIEF: NO 'COST PLUS 50' FOR ALLIES: Shanahan also on Thursday said the Pentagon will not ask ally nations to pay the full cost of stationing U.S. forces on their soil, plus 50 percent more.

Shanahan was asked by Sen. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanRepublicans defend McCain amid Trump attacks Overnight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget Pentagon chief calls reports of charges to allies erroneous: 'We won't do cost plus 50' MORE (R-Alaska) during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the Trump administration's so-called cost plus 50 formula.

"Senator, we won't do cost plus 50 percent," Shanahan said.

The background: Numerous outlets have reported that the administration is drafting new demands that Japan and Germany -- and eventually other countries where U.S. troops are based -- pay the full price of keeping U.S. forces in their nation, plus another 50 percent payment for the special right to host them.

The new formula, first reported by Bloomberg, could mean that the United States would ask countries to pay at least five times more than they do now.

'Erroneous' reports: Shanahan said those reports are "erroneous."

"We're not going to run a business and we're not going to run a charity," he told lawmakers.

"The important part is that people pay their fair share and payment comes in lots of different forms. [It] could be contributions, like in Afghanistan. But at the end of the day, people need to carry their fair share and not everyone can contribute, but it is not about the cost plus 50 percent."

How it works vs. what Trump wants: Countries that host permanent U.S. military installations traditionally pay a portion of the costs to house and equip U.S. forces, but the payment comes in various forms. Japan and South Korea make cash contributions, while Germany pays by covering the bill for land, infrastructure and construction of the military facilities, as well as waiving taxes and customs duties.

President Trump, however, has repeatedly said such payments aren't enough and has reportedly pressed the cost plus 50 model for months.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, have lambasted the idea as disastrous for American diplomacy.

Shanahan sidesteps Boeing controversy: Shanahan, who worked for Boeing for 30 years before entering the Pentagon, said on Thursday that he has not spoken to anyone in the Trump administration about the recent string of deadly 737 Max 8 passenger jet crashes.

Shanahan was asked by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) about Sunday's crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8, which killed all 157 people on board. Another such aircraft flown by Lion Air crashed in Indonesia last October, killing 189 people. 

Shanahan said he's "not spoken to anyone regarding the 737 Max," and had not been briefed at all on any of the problems relating to it.

"I firmly believe we should let the regulators investigate the incidents," he said. "My heart goes out and my condolences to the families and the employees involved in the Lion Air incident and Ethiopian Airlines incident."

Before President Trump nominated him as deputy Defense secretary in March 2017, Shanahan served as the senior vice president of airplane programs at Boeing, where he oversaw the 737, 747, 767, 777 and 787 programs.

  

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

Air Force acquisition executive Will Roper will speak on changing the acquisition approach for the Air Force at 9 a.m. at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

 

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