Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 2, 2014

Posts in "Authorization"

August 15, 2014

Defense Industry Donations and the Alan Grayson Police Militarization Amendment

453575526 445x307 Defense Industry Donations and the Alan Grayson Police Militarization Amendment

A police officer watches over demonstrators protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 13 in Ferguson. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

With images of heavily armed police confronting protesters in Ferguson, Mo., sparking a national debate about police militarization, a campaign finance research organization has released a study showing how much defense industry money House members got before a June 19 vote that rejected Rep. Alan Grayson’s amendment to block military equipment transfers to local law enforcement. The organization, MapLight, found that those who voted against it got 73 percent more in defense industry donations than those who voted in favor.

But there are probably bigger reasons for the vote going the way it did. And the issue could come up again in Congress — Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., promised Friday to review the program before his committee’s fiscal 2015 defense policy bill comes to the floor; Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., has put forward new legislation; and others are calling for hearings. So it’s worth reviewing the motivations for those votes.

Full story

July 14, 2014

Constitutionality Debate Over Guantanamo Provision Sets Up House-Senate Fight

495393297 445x296 Constitutionality Debate Over Guantanamo Provision Sets Up House Senate Fight

A sign showing support for Bergdahl sits along Main Street in Hailey, Idaho, on June 2. He was released from captivity on May 31 in exchange for the freedom of five Taliban prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The American Civil Liberties Union and a national security law professor say that when the GOP-controlled House added an amendment to the annual defense spending bill to prevent overseas prisoner transfers from the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base — a response to the prisoner exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — it endorsed language that was unconstitutional. The amendment was offered by a tea party-aligned lawmaker who has vowed to fight unconstitutional laws.

It’s not true that the Guantanamo provision is unconstitutional, though, answer a pair of GOP aides, as a Senate panel prepares to vote on its own take on the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill Tuesday morning. Full story

June 27, 2014

Should Ex-Spies, Diplomats Be Able to Go Straight to Work for Shady Foreign Governments?

wolf 030 010814 445x308 Should Ex Spies, Diplomats Be Able to Go Straight to Work for Shady Foreign Governments?

Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., left, and Wolf leave the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on Jan. 8. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two members of Congress — Republican Reps. Frank Wolf and Mike Rogers — have tried to make moves this year toward creating a “cooling off” period for former diplomats and intelligence officials before they can take jobs with shady foreign governments. But there’s some mystery in both efforts. Full story

June 23, 2014

Cybersecurity, Drones and the Marines in the Week Ahead

The schedule is too jam-packed to just highlight one or two events each day. Full story

June 20, 2014

House Votes to Ban Some, but Not All, Weapons for Syrian Rebels

450698092 445x348 House Votes to Ban Some, but Not All, Weapons for Syrian Rebels

Rescuers carry a body after Syrian regime helicopters allegedly dropped barrel bombs on the Sukkari neighbourhood, an opposition-held district in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, on June 16. (Baraa al-Halabi/AFP/Getty Images)

Syrian rebels couldn’t get any shoulder-fired missiles from the United States under an amendment adopted Thursday night on the House floor. The House voted down another amendment that would block them from getting any U.S. weapons at all, however. Full story

June 19, 2014

The Quest to Protect the Newest Member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

At the beginning of 2012, the head of the National Guard Bureau joined the Joint Chiefs of Staff over the objections of top Pentagon brass, in a move that amounted to a coup for the National Guard’s profile. This January, he started getting the same level of continuous physical protection and security afforded to the other leaders with access to the nation’s most sensitive military secrets — after it took two years to get the application and paperwork completed. Full story

June 18, 2014

Air Force Tries to Save Cash, Congress Won’t Let It

151274540 2 445x296 Air Force Tries to Save Cash, Congress Wont Let It

An A-10 Thunderbolt parked on a tarmac in the Czech Republic where it was taking part in joint NATO military exercises in 2012. AFP PHOTO/ RADEK MICA (Radek Mica/AFP/GettyImages)

Everywhere Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James turns to cut her budget, Congress puts up a roadblock. Trying to get rid of the A-10: “So far it’s not gone over tremendously well,” she said. A proposal to shutter bases via the Base Realignment and Closure process: “I would give that zero probability of passing this year.” The notion of slicing aircraft here and there: “That hasn’t gone over very well either.”

It leaves James with few options of her own choosing, she told defense reporters at a breakfast Wednesday, along with some alternatives she doesn’t want — and a future she views as unrealistic. Full story

Backlash for Environmental, Climate Change Tweets From State, VA

On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs tweeted about saving the ocean. On Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry and Bill Nye “The Science Guy” had a Twitter discussion where Nye asked about awareness of climate change in Iran and Iraq. Both were greeted with outrage and sarcasm, sometimes all at once, about whether the VA, Iran and Iraq had bigger things to worry about, like a patient care scandal or the march of ISIL on Baghdad.

The backlash comes at an inconvenient policy moment for the case that there’s a strong connection between national security, foreign policy and climate change. Full story

June 16, 2014

Pentagon Waste on Table in Advance of House Spending Bill Consideration

The House is about to take up its annual bill for Defense spending. It’s a $491 billion measure, $570 billion if you count the war-related spending account, so there’s a lot of money to be scrutinized.

Some of the bill’s provisions take aim at withholding funds; some of the bill’s provisions increase funds for programs the Pentagon doesn’t want; and some provisions will be targeted for new cuts or increases when the bill comes to the floor. Full story

June 12, 2014

Study to Assess Threats to U.S. Military Technological Superiority

A group of senators, after receiving a classified briefing, got spooked that maybe the Pentagon wasn’t taking seriously enough the notion that other countries are starting to tailgate the U.S. military on technology. So now they’re ordering a study “to examine the potential specific challenges to U.S. military technological superiority within the next 10 years, and the specific planned responses by the Department of Defense (DOD) to meet these challenges.”

At the same time, the department’s basic research funding is in danger of dropping. Full story

June 10, 2014

What the Pentagon Might Recommend to Congress on Acquisition Overhaul Next Year

Congress is going to look very closely as soon as next year’s defense policy bill at overhauling how the Defense Department spends its massive budget on hardware and services. On Tuesday, the department official tasked with generating recommendations for Capitol Hill hinted at what the Pentagon does and does not want. Full story

June 6, 2014

Did President Obama Break the Law in Prisoner Swap?

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A promotion for petitions by Change.org calling on the closing of the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay are pictured during a briefing in May 2013 with Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., in the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans in Congress, and even some Democrats, have heard the Obama administration’s explanation for why it didn’t need to notify Congress 30 days in advance of the Guantánamo Bay Taliban prisoner swap for Bowe Bergdahl and found it lacking. The Senate Armed Services Committee has a briefing this coming Tuesday, and the House panel has a hearing the next day.

But what do the legal experts say?

Full story

June 4, 2014

A New Jungle Book on Warfare

CQR97080.714 445x290 A New Jungle Book on Warfare

Since 2001, the military has spent considerable time and effort figuring out how best to do combat in Middle Eastern climes and cities. Now, with the executive branch’s “Asia pivot,” the Senate Armed Services Committee wants the Department of Defense to refocus its attention on a different terrain: the jungle.

Full story

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