defense

Trump jets to Japan to wing it at G-20 summit as Iran tensions build
Official unable to lay out agenda for high-stakes meetings with Xi, Putin and MBS

Air Force One arrives with President Donald Trump for a rally in Montoursville, Pa., on May 20. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After a week of brinksmanship and backing down, President Donald Trump  heads to a G-20 summit in Japan on Wednesday for talks with other world leaders amid a volatile confrontation with Iran and stalled trade talks with China.

Senior administration officials made clear this week that Trump, who admits his negotiating style is based on gut feelings and big bets, will largely wing it at the meeting. Officials declined to describe any set agenda for the president’s talks with world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

NDAA future uncertain amid amendment disputes

From left, Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., John Thune, R-S.D., James Inhofe, R-Okla., Todd Young, R-Ind., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., conduct a news conference in the Capitol on Tuesday after the Senate policy lunches. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is barreling toward a procedural vote Wednesday on the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill, but the typically bipartisan measure could become the victim of a filibuster amid a battle over amendments.

Democrats could block cloture on the bill if they don’t receive assurances from Senate Republicans of a vote on an amendment that would stop President Donald Trump from launching a war against Iran without congressional approval.

Trump admits he lacks exit strategy for an Iran war
Candidate Trump harshly criticized ‘stupid wars’ in Middle East that U.S. couldn’t untangle

Peshmerga fighters are seen driving along the frontline outside the town of Altun Kubri on October 23, 2017 in Altun Kubri, Iraq. President Donald Trump long criticized George W. Bush and Barack Obama for their lack of exit strategies in the Middle East. Now, he might need one for war with Iran. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump admitted Tuesday he has no plan for how to get out of war with Iran if one breaks out, even though he campaigned on ending protracted American wars in the Middle East that he long has called “stupid.”

Hours after he responded to insults by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani by warning him of “obliteration” if a shooting conflict starts, CQ Roll Call asked Trump this during an unrelated event in the Oval Office: “Do you have an exit strategy for Iran, if war does break out?”

McConnell says no to delay on votes to accommodate Dem presidential hopefuls
Democrats had pushed for delay to give senators involved in presidential debates time to get back

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not want to delay votes on a defense policy bill so that Democratic senators can head to a series of presidential debates in Miami. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear Tuesday that Democrats are going to have to filibuster the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill if they do not want final votes this week.

The Kentucky Republican opened the Senate with criticism of Monday afternoon’s statement by Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer that defense policy bill votes, including consideration of a key amendment regarding limitations on the use of funds for war with Iran, should be delayed until after this week’s Democratic presidential debates.

U.S.-Iran confrontation escalates as Trump threatens ‘obliteration’ after Rouhani’s insult
Schumer: ‘The danger of bumbling into war is acute‘

Then-Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., conduct a news conference in the Capitol after a briefing with senators on the Iran nuclear deal in September 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Responding to Iranian officials calling his White House “mentally retarded,” President Donald Trump called their latest statement “ignorant and insulting” before warning them he is prepared to use “great and overwhelming force” against their country.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani used the same televised Tuesday address that included an insult for Trump and his staff to say new sanctions the Trump administration slapped on some of their top leaders “useless.” He sharply criticized Trump’s hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton, as “a source of belligerence and aggression” in the region. (Bolton for years has advocated a U.S. policy of seeking regime change in Tehran.)

Inhofe, Reed draw on professional, personal relationship in defense policy debate
Oklahoman Republican, Rhode Island Democrat find common ground

Senate Armed Services Chairman James M. Inhofe, left, and ranking member Jack Reed have brought the fiscal 2020 defense authorization to the Senate floor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Maybe the annual Pentagon policy bill would have been popular regardless, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that the two members shepherding it on the Senate floor this week, Republican James M. Inhofe and Democrat Jack Reed, work together well as leaders of the Armed Services Committee and enjoy a genuinely deep friendship.

“I don’t think there’s two closer friends than Jack Reed and myself,” said Inhofe, the panel’s chairman.

Capitol Ink | Wayward Drone

Chuck Schumer wants Senate to vote on Iran, after the Democratic debates
New York Democrat: All senators should be present for vote on restricting Trump actions

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.,  wants all senators present for a vote related to Iran policy.(Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer wants senators to vote on restricting the ability of the Trump administration to go to war with Iran, but he suggested Monday that vote should not take place until after this week’s Democratic presidential debates.

“One of the best ways to avoid bumbling into a war is to have a robust, open debate, and for Congress to have some say,” the Democrat from New York said on the Senate floor.

Road ahead: House and Senate seek to pass dueling border funding bills
Defense policy, election security and spending also on the agenda ahead of July Fourth

From right, Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, Vice Chairman Patrick J. Leahy and Illinois Sen. Richard J. Durbin huddle Wednesday before the committee marked up a border supplemental package. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Leaders in the House and Senate want to approve spending at least $4 billion more to address the influx of migrants and their humanitarian needs at the U.S.-Mexico border before the July Fourth recess.

Bills in the two chambers differ, however, raising doubts about whether there will be a resolution on President Donald Trump’s desk this month. 

Capitol Ink | Hard Lines in the Sand