Overnight Defense: Pentagon lists construction projects at risk from emergency declaration | Officials deny report on leaving 1,000 troops in Syria | Spy budget request nears $86B

Overnight Defense: Pentagon lists construction projects at risk from emergency declaration | Officials deny report on leaving 1,000 troops in Syria | Spy budget request nears $86B
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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: It took a few extra days, but Congress now has a list from the Pentagon of military construction projects that could lose funding because of President TrumpDonald John TrumpFauci says his meetings with Trump have 'dramatically decreased' McEnany criticizes DC mayor for not imposing earlier curfew amid protests Stopping Israel's annexation is a US national security interest MORE's national emergency declaration.

The Pentagon delivered the list to Congress on Monday, days after acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanHouse Armed Services chairman expresses confidence in Esper amid aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Boeing pleads for bailout under weight of coronavirus, 737 fallout Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January MORE had pledged to Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedBipartisan Senate panel leaders back fund to deter China The Hill's Coronavirus Report: National Portrait Gallery's Kim Sajet says this era rewiring people's relationship with culture, art; Trump's war with Twitter heats up Overnight Defense: Trump to withdraw US from Open Skies Treaty | Pentagon drops ban on recruits who had virus | FBI says Corpus Christi shooting terror-related MORE (D-R.I.) he would do so.

"We know President Trump wants to take money from our national security accounts to pay for his wall, and now we have a list of some of the projects and needed base repairs that could be derailed or put on the chopping block as a result," Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Reed said in a statement Monday.

What's in the list: The document sent to lawmakers Monday lists all military construction projects for which Congress has approved funding but for which the Pentagon has not signed a contract. The emergency declaration allows Trump to dip into such funds, which are known as unobligated funds.


The list, which senators released to reporters Monday, is broken down by military service, which is then further broken down by state or country. There are projects throughout the United States, and abroad in places including South Korea, Germany and Qatar.

The 21-page list includes everything from equipment maintenance facilities to training areas to schools for military families.

Pentagon assurances: In a memo accompanying the list, the Pentagon stressed that not all projects included in the document will be affected and that no projects would be delayed or canceled if the Pentagon's fiscal 2020 budget is passed on time and as requested.

The Pentagon requested $3.6 billion in its fiscal 2020 budget to backfill military construction accounts.

"Decisions have not yet been made concerning which border barrier projects will be funded through" the emergency declaration, the memo says. "If the Department's FY 2020 budget is enacted on time as requested, no military construction project used to source [emergency declaration] would be delayed or cancelled."

The memo also pledges that "no military housing, barracks or dormitory projects will be impacted."

Timing: Lawmakers are getting the list after they voted on a resolution to block Trump's national emergency declaration but before the House's planned vote on overriding Trump's veto.

Trump vetoed the resolution Friday, and the House plans to hold a veto override vote March 26.

Democrats opposed to the emergency declaration are clearly hoping the list sways some lawmakers ahead of the veto override vote.

"What President Trump is doing is a slap in the face to our military that makes our border and the country less secure," Reed said. "Now that members of Congress can see the potential impact this proposal could have on projects in their home states, I hope they will take that into consideration before the vote to override the president's veto."


DEFENSE OFFICIALS DENY SYRIA REPORT: Defense officials are pushing back on a Wall Street Journal report that said the Pentagon is crafting plans to leave as many as 1,000 troops in Syria.

On Monday, Shanahan said there were no changes to the plans for a drawdown in Syria and referenced an earlier denial from Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford.

"We are working closely with the Turks, our strategic partner. More importantly, we are on plan for our drawdown in Syria. I think you saw the comments from our Chairman Dunford. We are in close coordination with our [Defeat]-ISIS coalition partners on the real details of the plan," Shanahan said.

Shanahan was speaking to reporters at a meeting with French armed forces minister Florence Parly, where Syria was a top topic.

"The reason for my presence today is basically to find answers and figure out answers to numerous questions which we had before," Parly said. "I know that there is a lot of work that has been done on this sensitive issue and so I am sure that we will make progress during our discussions."

Earlier: On Sunday night, Dunford, the top U.S. general, also denied the accuracy of the Wall Street Journal report.

"A claim reported this evening by a major U.S. newspaper that the U.S. military is developing plans to keep nearly 1,000 U.S. troops in Syria is factually incorrect," Dunford said in a statement.

"There has been no change to the plan announced in February and we continue to implement the President's direction to draw down U.S. forces to a residual presence," he added.

The report: The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed U.S. officials, reported Sunday that the plans to leave as many as 1,000 U.S. troops in Syria were being made because the Trump administration has failed to reach a deal with the Turks, Kurds and Europeans to create a safe zone in northeast Syria once U.S. troops leave.

Leaving 1,000 troops there would mean about half the force currently there stays. It would also be a significant reversal after Trump first said all U.S. troops would leave, then agreed to leave 400.


SPY BUDGET REACHES $86B: The Trump administration wants nearly $86 billion for its intelligence programs in fiscal year 2020, a six-percent jump from last year.

Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsGerman lawmaker, US ambassador to Germany trade jabs Intelligence agencies have hired outside consultants to improve communication with Trump: report Senate confirms Ratcliffe to be Trump's spy chief MORE on Monday revealed that the administration wants $62.8 billion for its U.S. intelligence agencies, while the Pentagon released its $22.95 billion request for its military intelligence program (MIP).

What's the money for: Details of the so-called black budget are secret, but the funds cover a range of expenses including spy planes and satellites, intelligence gathering through spies and informants and cyberweapons.

The Defense Department's request, meanwhile, includes base budget funding as well as the war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations accounts, according to a Pentagon statement.

"The department determined that releasing this top line figure does not jeopardize any classified activities within the MIP," the statement noted. "No other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons."

This is the fifth straight year the Pentagon's MIP request has increased. For fiscal 2019 the department requested $21.2 billion, in FY-18 it was $20.7 billion, $18.5 billion in FY-17 and $17.7 billion in FY-16.

The MIP pays for defense intelligence activities and systems including secret military operations, intelligence gathering, spy planes and drones.

Intel clashes: The higher request comes despite the fact that President Trump has had a contentious relationship with his intelligence agencies since taking office.

Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel and FBI Director Christopher Wray made headlines in January with their congressional testimony on global threats, in particular because their statements appeared to conflict with Trump's policy agenda.

The U.S. intelligence community's threat assessment found that Iran was not developing nuclear weapons, that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) still remained a significant threat in Syria and that North Korea is unlikely to denuclearize -- conclusions that aren't aligned with Trump's foreign policy remarks.

Trump initially lashed out at the intelligence chiefs over their testimony, tweeting that he would be proven right and that they "should go back to school!"



The U.S. Institute of Peace will host a panel on "Crimea after Five Years of Russian Occupation" with speakers including Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. Valeriy Chaly at 9:30 a.m. https://bit.ly/2J5KDG4

Pentagon Office of Economic Adjustment Director Patrick O'Brien will talk about defense spending in the 50 states at 10 a.m. at the Brookings Institution. https://brook.gs/2ueNtyk



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