Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Stopgap spending bill includes military pay raise | Schumer presses Pentagon to protect impeachment witnesses | US ends civil-nuclear waiver in Iran

Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Stopgap spending bill includes military pay raise | Schumer presses Pentagon to protect impeachment witnesses | US ends civil-nuclear waiver in Iran
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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: The House will vote Tuesday on a stopgap spending measure to keep the

government open past Thursday.

The continuing resolution (CR), released Monday, would push the deadline for an overall spending agreement to Dec. 20.

The CR comes as lawmakers continue to battle over the parameters for new spending bills, with the largest controversies centered around President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence MORE's proposed border wall.

Top appropriators are negotiating over how to allocate funds among 12 spending bills, aiming to strike a deal by Wednesday.

Military pay raise: The Pentagon dislikes CRs because it prevents them from starting new programs.

But the CR released Monday does throw a different bone to the military: it would fund a planned 3.1 percent pay raise for troops.

Including the pay raise language comes after Senate Republicans berated Democrats for refusing to allow the defense funding bill to move forward, saying they were denying the troops a pay raise. Democrats blocked the bill's consideration over issues relating to the border wall.

McConnell backs 'clean' CR: As House Democrats were releasing the spending measure, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments GOP senators worry Trump made 'problematic' concessions in trade deal MORE (R-Ky.) threw his support behind a "clean" CR, saying it could pass the chamber and get Trump's signature.

"While the House and Senate continue negotiations on setting the allocations, we need to buy more time. The House and Senate need to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government through Dec. 20 and allow these talks to continue," McConnell said from the Senate floor.

McConnell stressed that the chamber will remain in session to pass the bill before leaving for a weeklong Thanksgiving break.

"This is what we need, a CR as clean as possible through Dec. 20. ... A clean CR to Dec. 20 would pass the Senate, and the White House has indicated President Trump would sign it," McConnell added.

 

 

IMPEACHMENT LATEST: This week is slated to be a packed one for impeachment happenings.

In the second week of public hearings, there are hearings scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The headliner is arguably Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandGOP lawmaker criticizes Democratic counsel over facial expression: 'Be very careful' Live coverage: Democrats, Republicans seek to win PR battle in final House impeachment hearing Schiff: Impeachment testimony shows Trump 'doesn't give a shit' about what's good for the country MORE, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, on Wednesday.

Sondland first emerged as a prime point of interest for lawmakers after he revised his closed-door testimony before it was released by the committee to say the president's dealings with Ukraine likely amounted to a quid pro quo.

And even more witnesses: On Monday, a ninth witness was added to this week's calendar: A State Department official based in Ukraine who is expected to describe a private phone call he overheard between Trump and Sondland in which Trump allegedly asked for details about investigations.

David Holmes will testify on Thursday, officials announced Monday.

Holmes told House investigators during a closed-door deposition last week that Trump asked Sondland during a July phone conversation for an update on "the investigation" -- and Sondland delivered the news Trump wanted, according to his opening remarks.

"So, he's gonna do the investigation?" Trump asked, according to Holmes's opening statement, which was obtained by The Hill.

"He's gonna do it," Sondland replied.

Schumer presses Pentagon: Also scheduled this week are the Ukraine expert at the National Security Council, Lt. Col. Alexander VindmanAlexander VindmanImpeachment sets up Ukrainian Americans for 2020 political role Director of National Intelligence Maguire should stand for the whistleblower Adam Schiff's star rises with impeachment hearings MORE, on Tuesday morning and Pentagon official Laura Cooper on Wednesday.

Ahead of their appearances, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings, inflaming tensions Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Overnight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants MORE (D-N.Y.) pushed the Pentagon for details on how it is protecting officials from retaliation when they testify.

Schumer sent a letter to Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperIraq's riots threaten Iran's plan for Middle East dominance Sunday shows — Nadler: A jury would convict Trump in 'three minutes flat' Florida Republican says Pensacola shooting 'has to inform on our ongoing relationship with Saudi Arabia' MORE on Monday asking for details on how the department is protecting Vindman and Cooper, as well as requesting the Pentagon formally notify personnel about their ability to share information with Congress.

"I believe the Department of Defense must do more to formally ensure that all Department military and civilian personnel understand that they may make protected disclosures to Congress free from retaliation," Schumer wrote in the letter. 

Trump open to testifying: Trump said Monday he will "strongly consider" giving written or in-person testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, despite his repeated refusal to cooperate with the investigation thus far.

Trump responded to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Impeachment witness to meet with Senate GOP Tuesday Press: Pelosi strikes back, hatred is a sin MORE's (D-Calif.) suggestion on "Face the Nation" a day earlier in which she said the president could "come right before the committee and talk ... or he could do it in writing."

"Even though I did nothing wrong, and don't like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!" Trump tweeted.

The White House has directed officials not to comply with the impeachment inquiry, and it's unclear whether Trump would follow through on testifying himself, particularly under oath.

He previously said during former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE's investigation that he would sit for an interview, only to provide Mueller with written answers to several questions. Trump's attorneys fought against an in-person interview after expressing concerns it could be a "perjury trap" for a president who often exaggerates or makes inaccurate statements.

 

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US ENDING IRAN CIVL-NUCLEAR WAIVER: The United States is ending a sanctions waiver for civil-nuclear work at a site where Iran recently announced it was enriching uranium, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoHillicon Valley: Amazon alleges Trump interfered in Pentagon contract to hurt Bezos | Federal council warns Trump of cyber threats to infrastructure | China to remove foreign technology from government offices Trump, Russian foreign minister to meet Tuesday Impeachment, Ukraine, Syria and warheads color Washington visit by top Russian diplomat MORE announced Monday.

"The United States will terminate the sanctions waiver related to the nuclear facility at Fordow effective Dec. 15, 2019," Pompeo told reporters at the State Department. "The right amount of uranium enrichment for the world's largest state sponsor of terror is zero. Iran originally constructed Fordow as a fortified underground bunker to conduct secret uranium enrichment work, and there is no legitimate reason for Iran to resume enrichment at this previously clandestine site."

"Iran should reverse its activity there immediately," he added.

Background: Pompeo's announcement comes after Iran announced, and the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed, that it had resumed uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow site in its latest breach of the 2015 nuclear deal.

The deal between Iran and other world powers allowed Fordow, a long-secret facility, to maintain centrifuges for research purposes, but banned enrichment activities there.

Though Trump withdrew from the deal and reimposed sanctions that had been lifted under it, the administration granted sanctions waivers to allow Europe, China and Russia to cooperate with Iran on converting nuclear facilities to nonmilitary purposes. In addition to Fordow, the administration granted waivers for projects at Bushehr and Arak.

Congressional reaction: Iran hard-liners in Congress have been increasingly pressuring the administration to revoke the waivers. Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHouston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence FBI head rejects claims of Ukrainian 2016 interference GOP counsel says both Ukraine, Russia interfered in 2016 U.S. elections MORE (R-Texas) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: FBI investigation in 2016 turned into a 'criminal conspiracy' This week: House impeachment inquiry hits crucial stretch Senate braces for brawl on Trump impeachment rules MORE (R-S.C.) and Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Stopgap spending bill includes military pay raise | Schumer presses Pentagon to protect impeachment witnesses | US ends civil-nuclear waiver in Iran Cruz, Graham and Cheney call on Trump to end all nuclear waivers for Iran Pompeo: US ending sanctions waiver for site where Iran resumed uranium enrichment MORE (R-Wyo.) introduced a bill last week to revoke the waivers.

After Pompeo's announcement, the trio applauded the news, but called on the administration to also end the other two waivers.

"Ending this waiver is another important step in tearing up the catastrophic-Obama Iran nuclear deal once and for all," Cruz, Graham and Cheney said in a joint statement. "The administration should now end the waivers for the remaining projects related to the deal, especially the Arak reactor, Iran's heavy water reactor. There is no justification for extending that waiver in light of recent confirmation that Iran is violating its heavy water obligations, let alone for letting Iran continue to build up its program - not at Fordow, and not at Arak."

"We will continue to urge the administration to stop issuing all civil-nuclear waivers and call on our colleagues to expeditiously take up our legislation, end these waivers, and hold Iran accountable," they added.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

The House Foreign Affairs Committee has three hearings scheduled:

-- A subcommittee hearing on the Open Skies Treaty at 10 a.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2172. https://bit.ly/2QtWEas

-- A subcommittee hearing on U.S.-Africa relations at 10 a.m. at Rayburn 2200. https://bit.ly/340XpLU

-- A subcommittee hearing on the protests in Lebanon at 2 p.m. at Rayburn 2172. https://bit.ly/37jieUY

A House Oversight Committee subpanel will hold a hearing on the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency at 2 p.m. at Rayburn 2203. https://bit.ly/2XqEOGD

 

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ICYMI

-- The Hill: US, South Korea cancel military exercise after criticism from North Korea

-- The Hill: Impeachment battle looms over must-pass defense bill

-- The Hill: Trump grants pardons to two service members in war-crimes cases

-- The Hill: North Korea: We won't 'gift' Trump with summit before concessions

-- Associated Press: Russia returns 3 seized ships to Ukraine, talks about summit

-- Bloomberg: Pentagon progress in new audit undercut by worsening shortfalls