Overnight Defense: House passes bills to rein in Trump on Iran | Pentagon seeks Iraq's permission to deploy missile defenses | Roberts refuses to read Paul question on whistleblower during impeachment trial

Overnight Defense: House passes bills to rein in Trump on Iran | Pentagon seeks Iraq's permission to deploy missile defenses | Roberts refuses to read Paul question on whistleblower during impeachment trial
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Happy Thursday 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 passed a pair of bills Thursday aimed at limiting President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Trump organization has laid off over 1000 employees due to pandemic: report Trump invokes Defense Production Act to prevent export of surgical masks, gloves MORE's war authorities, the latest legislative maneuver after the spike in U.S.-Iran tensions.

One bill would repeal the 2002 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF), while the other would block funding for military action against Iran.

The House approved the bill to repeal the Iraq War authorization in a largely party-line vote of 236-166. The other bill was also passed in a mostly partisan vote of 228-175.

Here's more on each one:

AUMF repeal: The Trump administration has cited the 2002 AUMF in its legal justification for the strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, which took place on Iraqi soil and came after the administration blamed an Iranian-backed militia for a rocket attack in Iraq that killed a U.S. contractor and an attempt to storm the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The 2002 AUMF, which was passed to authorize the Iraq War, allows military action to "defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq." The authorization has been used to some extent by successive presidents to justify military action against terrorist threats, though administrations more prominently use the post-9/11 AUMF for operations against terrorists. 

The bill to repeal the 2002 AUMF was offered by Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeCBS All Access launches animated 'Tooning Out the News' series Bill banning menthol in cigarettes divides Democrats, with some seeing racial bias Democrats spar with DeVos at hearing, say Trump budget would 'privatize education' MORE (D-Calif.), a longtime anti-war voice.

"I stand here once again urging Congress to do its job, this time by repealing the long outdated and unnecessary 2002 AUMF," Lee, who voted against both the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, said Thursday ahead of the vote. "Not only is it not needed for any current counterterrorism operations, but repealing it would have absolutely no impact on the administration's ongoing military operations."

By contrast, Lee continued, leaving the AUMF on the books would "allow any administration to use it for military action that Congress never intended to authorize."

Republican Reps. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) Gaetz2020 on my mind: Democrats have to think like Mitch McConnell Harris knocks Gaetz for taking issue with money for Howard in relief package Critics hit Florida governor over lack of 'sweeping' coronavirus response MORE (Fla.), Warren DavidsonWarren Earl DavidsonLawmakers shame ex-Wells Fargo directors for failing to reboot bank Overnight Defense: House passes bills to rein in Trump on Iran | Pentagon seeks Iraq's permission to deploy missile defenses | Roberts refuses to read Paul question on whistleblower during impeachment trial Here are the lawmakers who defected on Iran legislation MORE (Ohio), Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieThe Hill's Campaign Report: North Carolina emerges as key battleground for Senate control The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump blends upbeat virus info and high US death forecast GOP challenger seizes on outrage against Massie MORE (Ky.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Michael Cloud (Texas), Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherGOP lawmaker touts bill prohibiting purchases of drugs made in China Wisconsin Republican says US must not rely on China for critical supplies We weren't ready for a pandemic — imagine a crippling cyberattack MORE (Wis.), Alex MooneyAlexander (Alex) Xavier MooneyOvernight Defense: House passes bills to rein in Trump on Iran | Pentagon seeks Iraq's permission to deploy missile defenses | Roberts refuses to read Paul question on whistleblower during impeachment trial Here are the lawmakers who defected on Iran legislation House votes to rein in Trump's military authority MORE (W.Va.), Jamie Herrera Beutler (Wash.), Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyTop conservatives pen letter to Trump with concerns on fourth coronavirus relief bill The Hill's 12:30 Report: House to vote on .2T stimulus after mad dash to Washington Conservative lawmakers tell Trump to 'back off' attacks on GOP colleague MORE (Texas), David SchweikertDavid SchweikertHispanic Caucus campaign arm unveils non-Hispanic endorsements Carper staffer tests positive in Delaware The Hill's Morning Report - Biden commits to female VP; CDC says no events of 50+ people for 8 weeks MORE (Ariz.) and Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonOvernight Defense: Pentagon curtails more exercises over coronavirus | House passes Iran war powers measure | Rocket attack hits Iraqi base with US troops House passes measure limiting Trump's ability to take military action against Iran House passes .3 billion measure to fight coronavirus MORE (Mich.) broke with their party to support Lee's bill.

Funding block: The other bill, offered by Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Defense Production Act urgently needed for critical medical gear 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order MORE (D-Calif.), would prohibit federal funding from being used for military action against Iran except in cases of self-defense or if Congress has specifically authorized the action.

"The reality is that Congress needs to exercise the power of the purse," Khanna told reporters ahead of the vote. "We need to make it very clear that Congress is not going to authorize a dime for an offensive war in Iran."

Khanna's bill had support from four Republicans: Gaetz, Massie, Davidson and Rep. Trey HollingsworthJoseph (Trey) Albert HollingsworthThe housing affordability crisis is a reality: Lawmakers need to act, but responsibly Overnight Defense: House passes bills to rein in Trump on Iran | Pentagon seeks Iraq's permission to deploy missile defenses | Roberts refuses to read Paul question on whistleblower during impeachment trial Here are the lawmakers who defected on Iran legislation MORE (Ind.).

GOP argues over process: Most Republicans fumed about the procedure Democrats used to bring the bills to the floor.

The House voted on Khanna's and Lee's measures as amendments to an unrelated commemorative coin bill. That prevented Republicans from offering what's known as a motion to recommit, which is the last opportunity to amend a bill in the House.

Motions to recommit are used often by the minority and usually fail. But Republicans successfully used them several times last year to force centrist Democrats into tough votes and split with the party.

"Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrats are so unsure of their own substantive case that they are hiding behind House rules to make sure that Republicans can't even bring any amendment to this legislation," said Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneySelf-quarantined New York lawmaker: 'We should be in total lockdown' On The Money: Trump hopes to reopen economy by Easter | GOP senators expect stimulus vote on Wednesday | Democratic leaders forecast at least two more relief bills Trump triggers congressional debate with comments on reopening economy MORE (Wyo.), the No. 3 House Republican.

The procedural move prompted some Republicans who previously voted for both bills in July to vote against them on Thursday, with Rep. Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedInfrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens Overnight Defense: Pentagon curtails more exercises over coronavirus | House passes Iran war powers measure | Rocket attack hits Iraqi base with US troops House passes measure limiting Trump's ability to take military action against Iran MORE (R-N.Y.) saying he switched his vote because the debate was now a "sham."

At the Pentagon: As the House was getting ready to vote on the bills, Pentagon officials spoke to reporters on the latest fallout after the Soleimani strike.

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperPentagon may treat coronavirus patients aboard Navy hospital ship A defining moment in our medical supply chain crisis Military personnel to handle coronavirus patients at facilities in NYC, New Orleans and Dallas MORE told reporters the United States is working to get the Iraqi government's permission to put Patriot missile defense systems in the country to protect U.S. forces there from possible Iranian attacks.

"One of the things we need to do is make sure we have permission from the host government, and that's one of the matters we have to work on and work through," Esper told reporters at a Pentagon press conference. "We need the permission of the Iraqis."

The U.S. military did not have Patriots deployed at al-Asad airbase in Iraq, which houses American troops, during a Jan. 8 missile attack from Iran that was retaliation for the Soleimani strike.

Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley also spoke about the traumatic brain injuries U.S. troops suffered in the missile attack.

Milley said the service members suffering from TBIs have all been diagnosed with mild cases.

Asked about Trump's comments that the injuries were "headaches" and not "very serious," Esper said he's spoken with the president and that he "is very concerned about the health and welfare of all our service members, particularly those who were involved in the operations in Iraq, and he understands the nature of these injuries."

 

IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, DAY 9: Thursday saw the second day of senators question both House impeachment managers and the defense team in Trump's impeachment trial.

The Hill is maintaining a liveblog of the question and answer session, which is ongoing. Follow along here.

Roberts won't read Paul's question: The question the got perhaps the most attention Thursday was one that wasn't asked.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts refused to read a question submitted by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGeorgia governor says he didn't know asymptomatic people could spread coronavirus McConnell: Impeachment distracted government from coronavirus threat Warren knocks McConnell for forcing in-person Senate vote amid coronavirus pandemic MORE (R-Ky.) that was expected to be about the whistleblower at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

Because the question is thought to name the whistleblower and Roberts is responsible for reading the questions aloud, that would put him in the position of publicly outing the person on the floor of the Senate.

A Senate page brought the question from Paul to Roberts, who appeared to pause to read it. 

"The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted," Roberts said. 

Roberts then sat the slip of paper with Paul's query aside and the Senate moved on to the next question. 

Paul argued during a brief press conference after the floor drama that his question "made no reference to any whistleblower" and that Roberts's decision was an "incorrect finding." 

"I think this is an important question, one that deserves to be asked. It makes no reference to anybody who may or may not be a whistleblower," Paul said. 

Paul then read his question, which names both a staff member for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Hannity blasts criticism of Fox News: 'I have taken this seriously' Pelosi forms House committee to oversee coronavirus response MORE (D-Calif.) and the individual who has been reported in conservative media as the possible whistleblower, and asks about their contacts.

End in sight?: Senate Republicans are planning for four hours of closing arguments in Trump's impeachment trial starting Friday afternoon.

The arguments, presented by both the House managers and the Trump's defense team, would be followed by a vote on whether to call additional witnesses and then a final up-or-down vote on the two articles of impeachment.

Republicans are aiming to wrap up the trial proceedings late Friday evening or early Saturday morning, depending on how long Democrats drag out the final vote by offering amendments to the motion to move to a final vote, said Senate Republican Conference Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoOvernight Energy: Trump rolls back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards | Controversial Keystone XL construction to proceed | Pressure mounts to close national parks amid pandemic Critics blast Trump mileage rollback, citing environment and health concerns Lobbying world MORE (Wyo.).

"My understanding is essentially the closing arguments are going to be two hours for each side tomorrow afternoon, probably starting at one o'clock, until we're finished with that. Then the vote would occur on the issue of witnesses," Barrasso said at a brief press conference Thursday during a 20-minute break in the trial.

"If we are able to say, 'No, we want to go right now to final judgment,' then we would move in that direction and stay here until that work is decided and completed Friday evening," he added.

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: Here are the lawmakers who defected on Iran legislation

-- The Hill: Trump administration to propose keeping Ukraine funding unchanged in new budget

-- The Hill: US extends waivers for Iran nuclear program, announces new sanctions

-- The Hill: Trump administration to roll back restrictions on landmine use: report

-- The Hill: Opinion: Washington needs to anticipate Iran's next provocation

-- The Hill: Opinion: The US needs Israel-style air defense to stop Iran

-- Associated Press: US military chief in Africa argues for vital US presence

-- Federation of American Scientists: US deploys new low-yield nuclear submarine warhead

-- The Washington Post: As impeachment vote looms, Pompeo's Ukraine trip is a high-risk, high-reward venture