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 TrumpTrump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' 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 McConnellDemocrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public George Conway group drops ad seeking to remind GOP senators of their 'sworn oaths' ahead of impeachment trial GOP senator 'open' to impeachment witnesses 'within the scope' of articles 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 SondlandParnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Five takeaways from Parnas's Maddow interview Giuliani pushes to join Trump impeachment defense team: report 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 VindmanPresident Trump's intelligence community security blanket Whistleblower's lawyer questions GOP senator's whistleblower protection caucus membership White House limits number of officials allowed to listen to Trump calls with foreign leaders: report MORE, on Tuesday morning and Pentagon official Laura Cooper on Wednesday.

Ahead of their appearances, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump administration installs plaque marking finish of 100 miles of border wall Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications 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 EsperLawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown Overnight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Senate Dems urge Esper to oppose shifting Pentagon money to border wall 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 PelosiDemocrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public Schiff huddles in Capitol with impeachment managers Media's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle 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 MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay 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 PompeoCountries reach agreement in Berlin on Libya cease-fire push, arms embargo Trump Jr.: If 'weaker' Republicans only call for certain witnesses, 'they don't deserve to be in office' House Democrats may call new impeachment witnesses if Senate doesn't 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 CruzSunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial Cruz: Hearing from witnesses could extend Senate trial to up to 8 weeks Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial MORE (R-Texas) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown George Conway group drops ad seeking to remind GOP senators of their 'sworn oaths' ahead of impeachment trial House Democrats may call new impeachment witnesses if Senate doesn't MORE (R-S.C.) and Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe Hill's Campaign Report: Sanders, Warren feud rattles Democrats The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial The Hill's 12:30 Report: Senate receives impeachment articles as trial opens 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