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Overnight Defense: Trump in India announces $3B defense deal | US military dependent in South Korea tests positive for coronavirus | Groups press Congress to restore 'balance' on national security powers

Overnight Defense: Trump in India announces $3B defense deal | US military dependent in South Korea tests positive for coronavirus | Groups press Congress to restore 'balance' on national security powers
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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: President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE on Monday was offered a warm welcome during his first trip to India and announced that the U.S. and India would sign a defense deal for New Delhi to purchase more than $3 billion in American helicopters and other military equipment.

Addressing a large crowd at a cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, Trump called Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a "true friend," touted the bond between the United States and India and expressed a desire to strengthen that bond further.

"Namaste, and hello to India. This is such a great honor," Trump said at the outset of his remarks. "The first lady and I have just traveled 8,000 miles around the world to deliver a message to every citizen across this nation: America loves India, America respects India, and America will always be faithful and loyal friends to the Indian people."

Trump's appearance at the Sardar Patel Stadium -- the largest cricket stadium in the world with a seating capacity of more than 100,000 -- kicked off his two-day stay in India, his first visit to the South Asian country as president.

Touting the deal: Last week, India's cabinet cleared the purchase of  24 MH-60R Seahawk maritime helicopters.

Separately, earlier in February, the State Department cleared a $1.8 billion sale of air defense missiles and radars, rifles and related equipment.

"The United States looks forward to providing India with the best and most feared military equipment on the planet. We make the greatest weapons ever made -- airplanes, missiles, rockets, ships. We make the best, and we are dealing now with India," Trump said.

"I am pleased to announce that tomorrow our representatives will sign deals to sell over $3 billion in the absolute finest, state-of-the-art military helicopters and other equipment to the Indian armed forces," the president said.

 

MILITARY DEPENDENT TESTS POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS: U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) announced Monday the first case of coronavirus linked to the command, saying a widow of a retired soldier tested positive for the virus.

In a news release, USFK said the patient was a 61-year-old woman who visited Camp Walker's Post Exchange on Feb. 12 and 15.

The diagnosis prompted USFK to raise its risk level to high.

USFK and South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are "actively conducting contact tracing to determine whether any others may have been exposed," according to the release.

Context: The diagnosis announced Monday comes amid an outbreak in South Korea that has infected more than 800 people and prompted South Korean President Moon Jae-in to put his country on its highest possible threat alert level.

Camp Walker is in the southeast city of Daegu, which has been the epicenter of South Korea's coronavirus outbreak.

What is high risk?: USFK described raising the risk level from moderate to high as "a prudent measure to protect the force."

At the high risk level, USFK said, troops can expect limits to non-mission essential in-person meetings, gatherings and temporary duty travel and assignments; longer wait times, possible temperature checks and screening questionnaires at gates to access installations; and limits to off-installation travel or advisories to use extreme caution when traveling off-installation.

Back in the US: The White House is preparing to ask Congress for emergency funding to fight the coronavirus, a spokesman said Monday, but declined to say how much would be requested.

"We need some funding here to make sure that we protect all Americans," White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said on Fox News.

He declined, however, to specify how much funding would be requested.

"I don't have an announcement on the specific amount yet, but we need to combat this, we need to make sure our people are safe and the president is always going to take action to do that," Gidley said.

Democrats have been calling for the Trump administration to request additional funds, but officials had previously said they could shift money from other programs. As the virus spreads to more countries, the administration is now shifting to ask for funds.

Some news outlets reported the administration would ask for approximately $1 billion, which some experts doubted would be enough funding.

 

ADVOCACY GROUPS PUSH CONGRESS ON NATIONAL SECURITY POWERS: A coalition of 20 advocacy groups from across the political spectrum are joining together to urge Congress to "restore the balance of national security powers" between itself and the executive branch.

"All Americans have a stake in decisions to go to war, bypass ordinary laws through emergency declarations or sell weapons to foreign regimes," the advocacy groups said in a "statement of principles" obtained by The Hill ahead of its release.

"However, the system of checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution is broken," the statement continues. "This is a bipartisan problem, created through generations of presidential power grabs, and by Congress's failure to do its job. As a result, it has become practically impossible for the public to have their say in debates that have huge implications both for the American people and for international peace and security."

In Congress: The statement comes ahead of a planned House hearing on the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches on national security issues.

A Democratic aide on the House Rules Committee confirmed to The Hill the panel is planning to hold a hearing on the issues raised in the statement.

"This is not about this Congress or this president," the aide said. "One Congress after the next has abdicated its power to the executive branch for decades now, regardless of who is in the White House. The Rules Committee will be holding a hearing on this topic and trying to find bipartisan solutions that help Congress reassert its constitutional authority."

Context: Though both the committee and the groups' statement of principle stress that the issue of separation of powers in national security is a decades-old, bipartisan one, the Trump administration has faced several controversies on the subject.

Trump's decision in January to kill Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, bringing Tehran and Washington to the brink of war, sparked the latest war powers debate in Congress.

In response, the House in largely party-line votes passed bills to block funding for military action against Iran and repeal the 2002 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF), the Iraq War authorization that the Trump administration used as legal justification for the Soleimani strike.

The Senate this month also passed a war powers resolution aimed at restricting Trump's ability to take military action against Iran, and the House is expected to take it up in the coming weeks.

Lawmakers have also grappled with the issue of national emergencies after Trump declared an emergency to be able to use military construction funds to build his southern border wall after Congress allocated less money for border security than he requested.

Congress twice voted to nix the emergency declaration, but Trump vetoed both measures, and Congress did not have the votes to override those vetoes.

On arms sales, last year, Trump invoked a little-used emergency power to push through a sale to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that was opposed by lawmakers. Congress voted to block the emergency arms sales but again could not overcome Trump's vetoes.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

Gen. Tod Wolters, the commander of U.S. European Command, and Gen. Stephen Lyons, the commander of U.S. Transportation Command, will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee at 9:30 a.m. at the Hart Senate Office Building, room 216. https://bit.ly/2SVVXHS

 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hear from outside experts on "North Korea Policy One Year After Hanoi" at 2:15 p.m. at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 419. https://bit.ly/381ey9P

 

ICYMI

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-- Associated Press: Trump expresses optimism for US peace deal with Taliban

-- The Washington Post: Al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups are working together in West Africa to grab large swaths of territory