Overnight Defense: Pentagon halts F-35 equipment deliveries to Turkey | Row over Turkey, Russia deal intensifies | Turkey dispute flares during NATO 70th anniversary | Officials detail Yemen strikes against al Qaeda

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: The standoff between the United States and its NATO ally Turkey over Ankara's plans to buy a Russian defense system reached a new stage Monday.

The Pentagon confirmed Monday it has suspended delivering F-35 fighter jet equipment to Turkey as its ramps up pressure on Ankara to back off its deal with the Russians.

Until Turkey forgoes the delivery of Russia's S-400 long-range air defense system, "the United States has suspended deliveries and activities associated with the stand-up of Turkey's F-35 operational capability," chief Pentagon spokesman Charles Summers said in a statement

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"Should Turkey procure the S-400, their continued participation in the F-35 program is at risk," he added.

The issue: Turkey has a contract with Russia to buy its S-400 long-range air-defense system, with delivery expected as soon as July.

But U.S. officials are concerned the S-400 could be used to gather information on the F-35, the United States' most advanced aircraft.

The United States and other NATO allies have also warned the S-400 system will not work with other NATO defense systems, and that Turkey could be subject to U.S. sanctions against those who do business with Russia's defense industry.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has remained defiant in the face of increasing U.S. pressure to abandon the deal with the Russians.

It's complicated: Taking Turkey out of the F-35 program isn't as simple as not shipping it the jets.

Turkey is a partner in the program, meaning key parts of the jet are built there.

In his statement Monday, the Pentagon said it is looking for alternatives for the Turkish-made parts.

Summers said the Defense Department has initiated the necessary steps to ensure "resiliency of the F-35 supply chain," should Turkey be stripped of its partnership, adding that "secondary sources of supply for Turkish-produced parts are now in development."

Timing: The growing rift between the United States and Turkey, NATO allies, comes as the alliance is celebrating its 70th anniversary.

Foreign ministers from across the alliance will be in Washington this week for a ministerial at the State Department to mark the occasion. Among them will be Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The decision to suspend delivery of F-35 equipment could make for tense conversation at Foggy Bottom during a week in which allies are working to project unity.

In Congress: U.S. lawmakers have increasingly expressed concerns about Turkey plans. The latest display came last week in the form of a bipartisan Senate bill that would prohibit the United States from transferring F-35s to Turkey until the Trump administration certifies Ankara is not buying the S-400.

Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenDemocrats headed for a subpoena showdown with White House Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine Defense spending bill advances over Democratic wall objections MORE (D-N.H.), one of the sponsors of that bill, said the Pentagon's decision Monday is an "important step," but does not go far enough.

"I'm glad the administration is heeding the bipartisan call in Congress to delay the transfer of F-35 equipment to Turkey to help ensure U.S. military technology and capabilities cannot fall into the hands of the Kremlin," she said in a statement. "This is an important step forward, but doesn't go far enough – I'll continue to call on the administration to prevent the delivery of the F-35 aircraft until Turkey abandons its plans to obtain the Russian defense system."

 

DEMS RACKED BY BUDGET DECISION: House Democrats on Monday indicated they will not put forth a budget resolution this year, the latest example of divisions between the moderate and progressive wings over spending plans for defense, climate, health care and other major policy issues.

 

Midnight is the party's self-imposed deadline for presenting a budget resolution, a non-binding document that is often used for messaging to highlight a party's agenda and priorities.

In lieu of a resolution, Democrats said they will introduce their proposal to raise spending caps.

Not doing a budget has its downside. Democrats have a majority for the first time in eight years, and the failure would be seen as an abdication of responsibility.

House Budget Committee Republicans circulated a memo Monday reminding the press that "drafting a budget is the chief responsibility of the Budget Committee" as well as articles speculating that the majority would forgo a resolution.

Defense connection: Budget Committee Chairman John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthMcConnell accepts Democratic rep's challenge to 5 debates House Democrats blur lines on support for impeachment White House won't move forward with billions in foreign aid cuts MORE (D-Ky.) told The Hill last week that Democrats were inching toward a deal, but differences remained over spending levels. Yarmuth was struggling to unify the party's progressive wing, which wants to boost domestic spending at the expense of defense, with more conservative Democrats focused on deficit reduction and defense hawks who want to keep increases for defense spending.

The White House and the GOP-controlled Senate have both proposed sticking to the deep cuts set out in the 2011 Budget Control Act, which would reduce total spending by $125 billion.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE, however, proposed funneling roughly $100 billion more into a special fund for defense so that the Pentagon would get more money even as nondefense spending is reduced.

Republican appropriators in the Senate have shown little appetite for the administration's approach, setting up a showdown with the White House and House Democrats over spending.

Without guidance on spending levels, appropriators would struggle to get spending bills completed on time, which could lead to a stopgap funding deal or even a shutdown when the new fiscal year begins in October.

 

YEMEN STRIKE COUNT: The Saudi-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen and U.S. support for it gets most of the attention when it comes to that country, but U.S. military forces also conduct operations against terrorist groups there.

A reminder of that came Monday when U.S. Central Command (Centcom) announced it has conducted eight airstrikes against the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen since the start of the year.

Six of those strikes against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) happened in March in the Al Bayda governate, according to a news release.

The other two happened in January, one in Al Bayda and the other in the Marib governate. The strike in Marib was previously announced as killing the alleged organizer of the USS Cole bombing, Jamal al-Badawi.

Monday's release gave no additional details about the eight strikes, including on casualties.

On the civil war: U.S. military operations against AQAP and ISIS in Yemen are separate from the U.S. support for the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen's civil war against Houthi rebels.

The House is expected to soon vote on resolution that would require the president to withdraw U.S. forces in or "affecting" Yemen unless they are fighting al Qaeda or associated forces.

The House Rules Committee was scheduled to meet Monday night to prepare the resolution for floor debate, meaning it could come to the floor as soon as this week.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW
The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for the nominees to be U.S. European Command commander and U.S. Africa Command commander at 9:30 a.m. at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room G-50. https://bit.ly/2UtRFJq

The House Appropriations Committee energy subcommittee will hold a hearing on the National Nuclear Security Administration's budget request at 9:45 a.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2362B. https://bit.ly/2UcTfQv

The service secretaries and chiefs of staff of the Air Force and Army will testify before the House Armed Services Committee at 10 a.m. at Rayburn 2118. https://bit.ly/2FPFAWz

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on climate change's threat to national security with testimony from outside experts at 10 a.m. at Rayburn 2172. https://bit.ly/2FPlw6X

The House Appropriations Committee defense subcommittee will hold a closed hearing on the Defense Intelligence Agency's budget request at 11 a.m. https://bit.ly/2CNVr6h

A House Armed Services subcommittee will hold a hearing on the role of the role of commanders in sexual assault prosecutions at 2 p.m. at Rayburn 2118. https://bit.ly/2YIFHLd

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on NATO at 70th anniversary with testimony from outside experts at 2:15 p.m. at Dirksen 419. https://bit.ly/2JXK9lJ

A Senate Armed Services subcommittee will hold a hearing on Army modernization at 3 p.m. at the Russell Senate Office Building, room 232A. https://bit.ly/2TWBtkq

A House Foreign Affairs subcommittee will hold a hearing on the future of NATO with testimony by outside experts at 3 p.m. at Rayburn 2172. https://bit.ly/2FG5Y40

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein will testify before the House Appropriations defense subcommittee at 3 p.m. at the House, room 140. https://bit.ly/2Vd3HUi

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: Vietnamese woman pleads guilty to lesser charge in assassination of Kim Jong Un's half brother

-- The Hill: 2 Marine pilots killed in helicopter crash in Arizona

-- The Hill: Opinion: Why Congress must act now on Yemen

-- Reuters: Treaty's end would give U.S., Russia impetus to make more nukes: study

-- Associated Press: NATO chief plays down divisions as allies mark anniversary