Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Pentagon approves transfer of $1.5B to border wall | Dems blast move | House Dem pushes Pelosi to sue over Trump's Yemen veto

Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Pentagon approves transfer of $1.5B to border wall | Dems blast move | House Dem pushes Pelosi to sue over Trump's Yemen veto
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Happy Friday 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: Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanOvernight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Trump defense chief: US may send more troops to Middle East amid Iran tensions Dem senator plans amendment to restrict military action against Iran MORE has approved the transfer of $1.5 billion from Pentagon coffers -- including more than $600 million from an Afghan security forces account -- to build more than 120 miles of barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a Pentagon statement released Friday.

"Today we reprogrammed $1.5 billion toward the construction of more than 120 miles of border barrier without impacting readiness," Shanahan said in a statement. 

"The funds were culled from a variety of sources, to include unexecuted prior year funds, the suspension of reimbursements to Pakistan, and costs reductions in a series of contracts."

The statement adds that the Defense Department "is fully engaged on the crisis along our southwest border," with more than 4,000 service members and 19 aircraft there supporting the Department of Homeland Services. 

Where the money is coming from: Reuters reported that the transfer would include $604 million from Afghan security forces accounts, with the rest coming from Air Force programs, a chemical demilitarization program, a retirement account and military dollars for Pakistan.

An unnamed U.S. official told the news service that $4.9 billion was appropriated for the security forces for fiscal 2019, and that money was taken from the account as savings in contracts were found.

Lawmaker response: Following news of the transfer, every Democratic member of the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee and the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies slammed the decision in a letter to Shanahan.

The lawmakers worry that the latest reprogramming will come at the expense of the military's readiness.

"Once again, the Department of Defense has ignored decades of precedent and cooperation with the Congress in carrying out a transfer of funds without regard to any consultation with the Appropriations Committee," they wrote.  "We are dismayed that the Department has chosen to prioritize a political campaign promise over the disaster relief needs of our service members, given the finite reprogramming authority available."

The letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump GOP senators work to get Trump on board with new disaster aid package Chances for disaster aid deal slip amid immigration fight MORE (Vt.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThreat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Senate Democrats request watchdog, Red Cross probe DHS detention facilities Iraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran MORE (Ill.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedSenate panel advances Trump's Space Force Senate panel rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps, advances defense bill that backfills wall money Overnight Defense: Iran worries dominate foreign policy talk | Pentagon reportedly to send WH plans for 10K troops in Mideast | Democrats warn Trump may push through Saudi arms sale | Lawmakers blast new Pentagon policy on sharing info MORE (R.I.), Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzOvernight Energy: Democrats ask if EPA chief misled on vehicle emissions | Dem senators want NBC debate focused on climate change | 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan Democratic senators want NBC primary debate to focus on climate change Overnight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds MORE (Hawaii), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Dem senator plans amendment to restrict military action against Iran Overnight Defense: Iran worries dominate foreign policy talk | Pentagon reportedly to send WH plans for 10K troops in Mideast | Democrats warn Trump may push through Saudi arms sale | Lawmakers blast new Pentagon policy on sharing info MORE (N.M.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators unveil sweeping bipartisan health care package | House lawmakers float Medicare pricing reforms | Dems offer bill to guarantee abortion access Bipartisan senators reveal sweeping health care package Senate chairman says bipartisan health care package coming Thursday MORE (Wash.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Overnight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Dem senator plans amendment to restrict military action against Iran MORE (Conn.), Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinWarren vows to fight 'tooth and nail' for LGBTQ protections as president This week: House to vote on bill to ban LGBTQ discrimination Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Pentagon approves transfer of .5B to border wall | Dems blast move | House Dem pushes Pelosi to sue over Trump's Yemen veto MORE (Wis.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report Jeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general This week: Democrats, White House set for infrastructure, budget talks MORE (Calif.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterThreat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Overnight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds GOP angst grows amid Trump trade war MORE (Mont.).

The background: The transfer comes after the Department of Defense in March moved nearly $1 billion from counter-drug funding to pay for President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE's border wall. In addition, Trump in February reprogrammed $3.6 billion in military construction funds for the wall as part of his national emergency declaration.

Shanahan told lawmakers on Wednesday that the Army Corps of Engineers is currently on contract to build about 256 miles of barrier.

"How you will see this materialize in the next six months is about 63 new miles of wall will come online, so about half a mile a day will be produced," Shanahan said during a Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing.

He also noted that there are now about 4,364 U.S. service members at the border, a mix of active-duty and National Guard members.

The administration plans to pull a total of $6.1 billion from Pentagon accounts for border barriers, including $2.5 billion from counter-drug programs and $3.6 billion from military construction funds. 

 

  

IRANIAN CLERIC CLAIMS US FLEET 'CAN BE DESTROYED WITH ONE MISSILE': A high-ranking cleric in the Iranian government claimed Friday that a U.S. carrier strike group headed to the Persian Gulf could be destroyed by a single missile fired by Iran's military, the latest threat from Tehran amid heightened tensions with the U.S.

Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad, who serves in Iran's Assembly of Experts, said that "their billion [-dollar] fleet can be destroyed with one missile," Reuters reported, citing an Iranian news agency.

"If they attempt any move, they will... [face] dozens of missiles because at that time [President Hassan Rouhani's] officials won't be in charge to act cautiously, but instead things will be in the hands of our beloved leader [Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei]," Tabatabai-Nejad added, according to the news service.

A refresher: The Trump administration announced Sunday that it would deploy the carrier strike group led by the USS Abraham Lincoln to the region along with a bomber task force to address "troubling and escalatory indications and warnings."

Tabatabai-Nejad, a hard-line conservative cleric, is seen as close to Khamenei in the country, according to Reuters, and his threats could indicate growing pressure from Iran's conservative wing to press tensions with the U.S.

A top official with Iran's Revolutionary Guard addressed the tensions as well, stating that "no talks will be held with the Americans, and the Americans will not dare take military action against us," Reuters reported.

Iran's government sees the U.S. as "unreliable" following the Trump administration's decision last year to abandon the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, the Revolutionary Guard official reportedly added.

White House national security adviser John BoltonJohn Robert BoltonIraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran Overnight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds Trump officials say US efforts to deter Iran have worked MORE said this week that the U.S. will not take military action in the region unless Iranian military forces or allied militia groups attempt such an act first.

"The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces," he said.

 

1 DEAD, SIX INJURED IN MARINES TRAINING CRASH: One marine died and six were injured Thursday in a crash at Camp Pendleton in Southern California.

The incident occurred after a light armored vehicle rolled over during training. The Marine Corps said in a statement the cause of the crash is under investigation.

The military said the six injured Marines were taken to a local hospital and were not seriously injured. The deceased Marine's identity was not revealed as next of kin had not yet been notified.

"This is a tragic event and our thoughts are with the family, friends and the unit at this difficult time," officials said.

The details: The Marines are from the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division.

Thursday's is the second fatal crash at Camp Pendleton in less than a month. The military announced in April that 29-year-old Staff Sgt. Joshua Braica, an eight-year veteran, died after a tactical vehicle he was driving rolled over at Camp Pendleton during training. Two other Marines suffered minor injuries in that crash. 

 

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YEMEN RESOLUTION SPONSOR PRESSES PELOSI TO SUE OVER VETO: Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaProgressive Democrat says Trump victory shed light on divide between Silicon Valley, rural US Democratic rep says targeted sanctions on Huawei are 'reasonable' The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push MORE (D-Calif.) said Friday he is pushing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to go to court over President Trump’s veto of his Yemen war powers resolution.

“I’ve been speaking with Speaker Pelosi now to take that to the Supreme Court because under The Steel Seizure Case, it’s unsettled law whether the presidential veto is the final word or whether Congress actually has the power under our founding to adjudicate matters of war and peace,” Khanna said at the National Security Action forum.

The Steel Seizure Case is a 1952 Supreme Court ruling related to whether the president has unilateral power as commander in chief. The court ruled the president did not have the power to seize and operate steel mills during the Korean War.

Pelosi's response: Asked about Khanna's effort, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill told The Hill that "we continue to consider all viable options to end this humanitarian crisis."

Background: Khanna was the chief House sponsor of a resolution that would have required Trump to withdraw U.S. military forces in or “affecting” Yemen unless they are fighting al Qaeda. The measure reached Trump's desk in April, but the president vetoed the resolution, arguing it was “unnecessary” and “dangerous.”

A Senate vote to override the veto fell short of the 67 votes needed to do so.

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: Dem senator: 'Everything that President Trump has touched internationally has gone to crap'

-- The Hill: Yemen resolution sponsor pushing Pelosi to sue over Trump veto

-- The Hill: Report: Renewed US-North Korea tensions followed Trump, Kim battles with own advisers

-- Defense News: Pentagon acquisition boss offers timeline, cost details for next F-35 contract