Happy Tuesday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I’m Ellen Mitchell, and here’s your nighttime guide to the latest developments in the Pentagon, Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.
Programming note: Wednesday December 23 is the last edition of Overnight Defense this year. We will be back on January 4, 2021. Happy Holidays!
THE TOPLINE: Leader of the majority of the Senate Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell McConnell: Senate Returns Dec. 29 For Possible Trump Veto-Right Vote Congress Passes 3T Coronavirus Lighting, Government Funding No. 2 GOP Senator: Attempts to Overthrow Elections Would ‘Go Down Like a Dog Gone’ MORE (R-Ky.) Announced early Tuesday morning that the Senate will return to Washington on Dec. 29 to respond to a possible veto by President Trump on a massive defense bill.
McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor, said he had struck a deal with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) to have the room come back for a rare post-Christmas session in which he said they will ‘veto’ processing’. transfer, if it has passed through the house.
“It was and is my intention to make sure that the Senate continues to fulfill our obligation to the men and women of our armed forces. I hope the president will not veto this bill,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.
“In case that President TrumpDonald Trump McConnell: Senate returns Dec. 29 for possible Trump veto power. decision to veto this bipartisan bill, Parliament appears to choose to return after the holidays to set up a vote to consider the veto. … In the event that the president vetoed the bill, and the House voted to override the veto, the Senate would have the option to override a veto at that point, ” McConnell adds.
Possible problems: Even if the Senate returns on Dec. 29, it could still be days before a final vote is taken on whether or not Trump should veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The Senate agreement comes after the House decided on Monday to return to Washington for a veto on Dec. 28. Trump has issued eight vetoes during his tenure, none of which have been successfully lifted.
Because the House initially passed the bill, it must first also vote on the override attempt. A Democratic House employee previously told The Hill that to overcome procedural hurdles in the Senate, members should vote to send the veto message to the Capitol before Dec. 29. automatically destroyed on Capitol Hill.
Senate leaders are likely to face procedural hurdles to reach a final vote on whether or not to lift Trump’s veto.
Other problems: Opponents of overriding the president’s veto could drag procedural hurdles by enforcing a cloture vote, forcing the override effort to get 60 votes initially, according to the Congressional Research Service. In order to ultimately give priority in the Senate, as in the House of Representatives, two-thirds support is needed.
GOP senators have previously suggested that a final vote could wait until the morning of Jan. 3, before the new congress is sworn in. Senator John Thune (RS.D.), McConnell’s No. 2, warned Monday night that it could take a “few days” before the Senate has gone through all the legislative hoops.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Who is close to Trump and tried to delay the defense bill earlier this month, said on Monday that he could similarly delay a vote.
“I am very much against the Afghan war, and I have told them that I am coming back to try to prevent them from easily ignoring the president’s veto,” Paul told reporters.
A deadline: Congress has until January 3 at 12:00 noon to lift the veto. If Congress doesn’t lift the veto by then, lawmakers will have to start all over again with the bill, and it would be the first time in 60 years that the bill won’t become law.
The defense bill passed both chambers with veto majorities, and top GOP senators had indicated back-channeling was underway to try to get Trump back from his veto threat. He has until Wednesday to veto.
Trump has doubled down on his threat several times, reiterating his complaints that it would not revoke a technical liability shield and rename the military bases in honor of Confederates. The president also added an unspecified complaint that the NDAA is weak on China.
MILLER TAKES AN UNANNOUNCED TRIP TO AFGHANISTAN AMONG DESTRUCTION: Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan on Tuesday during the second trip of a top US official to the country in a week.
Miller’s trip, unannounced for security reasons, comes as the US military honors President Trump’s order to move to 2,500 troops in Afghanistan by mid-January.
“So I’m the guy who’s going to 2,500 on behalf of the president,” Miller said over lunch to a group of troops, according to Military.com, who were traveling with him. “I firmly believe this is the right thing to do.”
What happened during the trip: During the trip, Miller met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the most senior US general in Afghanistan.
Miller and Ghani “discussed the historic opportunity for peace, the US’s continued support for Afghanistan’s National Defense and Security Forces, and the importance of reducing violence to advance the peace process,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The Secretary’s meeting with General Scott Miller was intended to “get his assessment of the overall security situation, including the current counterterrorism and training, advisory and support missions, the level of Taliban violence and the continued decline of US forces. the Pentagon said in a separate statement.
The secretary also met with troops to “thank them and acknowledge their sacrifice for being away from their families during a difficult vacation period,” the Pentagon said.
Second time in a week: Last week, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley also met with Ghani and Scott Miller on a trip to Afghanistan.
Milley’s stop in Afghanistan came after meeting with Taliban negotiators in Qatar, which was reportedly his second meeting with the 19-year-old enemies of the United States. During his meetings, Milley also stressed the need to reduce violence in Afghanistan.
Moving forwardTrump has continued to retreat to Afghanistan, even as US and military officials have said the Taliban has yet to honor the pledges they made in February.
The US-Taliban deal calls for a full US withdrawal by next May if the Taliban adheres to counter-terrorism commitments, such as denying al-Qaeda a safe haven.
In addition to not breaking with Al Qaeda yet, the Taliban has stepped up attacks on Afghan forces and condemned by US officials.
NAVAL ACADEMY PHYSICS EXAMS RATED ON ‘INCONSISTENCIES’: The US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, reviews hundreds of physics exams for possible “inconsistencies.”
US Naval Academy Provost Andrew Philips said in a statement on Tuesday that the academy was in the process of resolving all uncertainties surrounding the computer-based final exam for the Physics 1 (SP211) course.
The academy has not indicated what the inconsistencies were.
“The Marine Academy is working on resolving the uncertainties surrounding the final exam as soon as possible,” said Philips. “Final figures will be published upon completion of this assessment.”
The details: SP211 is a core class mainly taken by sophomores, or what the academy designates as 3rd grade midshipman. All midshipmen enrolled in the course received an ‘I-incomplete’ mark.
The exam was taken by about 650 sophomores, who brought their laptops to class to submit their answers online, CNN reported.
earlier: The development comes a day after the US Military Academy at West Point said it was dealing with the worst academic dishonesty scandal in decades. Seventy-three cadets were charged with cheating in a math graduation exam in May, officials confirmed to The Hill on Monday, including 72 freshman cadets and a sophomore cadet.
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