Happy Thursday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm calling Ellen Mitchell and here's your evening guide on the latest developments at the Pentagon, Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.
THE TOPLINE: The members of the Senate Committee of the Armed Forces came out Thursday of an in camera briefing on the Syrian policy of the Trump government with outstanding issues on the draft withdrawal of the president.
Several GOP senators coming out of the meeting offered a more moderate response to the proposed withdrawal after signs that it is slowing down. Many Republicans vocally opposed the withdrawal when President TrumpFed Chief Powell: Extended Closure Will Damage the US Economy Senators have said Trump's strategy in Syria remains unresolved after MORE's December press conference when he had stated that the troops would "come back now".
"I think there has to be some level of conditions with this withdrawal – if it's just purely time-based, I do not think it's a good idea," said Senator Thom. Tillis.According to Thomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenators, Trump's strategy in Syria remains after a statement. Emergency declaration option for GOP wall tests Kushner meets moderate Republicans looking for a stop solution, said MORE (R.C.).
When asked if he was satisfied that the administration was not coming forward with a precipitous withdrawal, he replied: "Not yet. Need more d & rsquo; # 39; s information. "
The details of the briefing: John Rood, Deputy Secretary of Defense, in charge of politics, informed the Armed Forces Panel of the withdrawal on Thursday. General Richard Clarke, Director of Strategy, Policy and Planning for the Joint Staff; and Major-General Michael Groen, Director of Intelligence, Joint Staff.
The briefing comes about three weeks after Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops in Syria fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
L & # 39; backgroundAt the time of his announcement, Trump said the withdrawal would be immediate, with officials saying it would happen within 30 days.
But officials then pushed the deadline to four months. Then last week, National Security Advisor John Bolton outlined the conditions for a withdrawal that could delay the departure even longer, including the defeat of the Islamic State and an agreement with the Turkey for the protection of the Kurds.
Trump denied that Bolton's comments were at odds with his initial statement, tweeting on Monday that they were "no different from my initial statements" and that "we will leave at a good pace".
But statements from the administration administration have left lawmakers looking for clear answers.
Dems not satisfied: On Thursday, Democrats on the Armed Forces Committee no longer seemed satisfied after the briefing that the government had a strategy for Syria.
Senator Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedSenators said questions remained about Trump's strategy in Syria after a briefing Trump's military measures are speeding up GOP's search for the Pentagon's next Pentagon in a state of depression after the departure of Mattis MORE ( RI), the highest Democrat on the panel, would not discuss the briefing specifically, but said in general, "I do not think they have a strategy."
Member of the committee, Senator Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenators: Talks on Trump's strategy in Syria remain after briefing Democrat senators hold debate on the debate to protest a partial stoppage Rob Reiner accuses Trump of treason: "He helps and encourages the trump enemy "MORE (DN.H.) said that he had heard nothing new in the briefing and that the administration did not shrink enough on his withdrawal proposal.
"It is a major mistake of foreign policy because not only does it abandon the Kurds and the Syrian Democratic Forces, but it lets Russia and Iran extend their influence in Syria," she said. .
Republicans a little more optimistic: Chairman of the James Inhofe CommitteeGOP Trump officially names Wheeler to head the military movement of EPA Trump, which is speeding up the search for the next GOP for the upcoming McCain MORE (R-Okla.), Said he was confident that the withdrawal would depend on the conditions.
"I still believe that the conditions are based, regardless of what certain speeches may have led some people to believe otherwise," he said.
Inhofe said that Trump "realizes that he will not do something that we are not ready to do, for which we are not equipped.And I believe that this will happen.I often have this insurance , including in this meeting. "
Sen. Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael Rounds Observers believe that Trump's strategy in Syria remains unanswered, after informing GOP senators to challenge Trump's closure strategy Problems are starting to appear in the resolution of the GOP judgment MORE (RS.D.) said the army was focused on ensuring that the Islamic State was defeated territorially. before the withdrawal and that the departure is "as safe as possible" for US troops.
"I do not think it's a precipitous withdrawal, I think they've been told to do it according to due process, or I think they've called it" eagerness ", did he declare.
He added, however, that questions remained unanswered about what would happen when American troops left.
DAY 20 CLOSURE – EMERGENCY DECLARATION OPTION FOR GOP WALL TESTS: President Trump on Thursday said Thursday that he was able to declare a national emergency to bypass the Congress if he could not reach an agreement with the Democrats on funding his promised Border Wall. long time.
Declaring migration to the southern border as a national emergency could be Trump's best option for a quick exit ramp to end the partial shutdown, which is now on its twentieth day with little or no progress towards a negotiated agreement. But the move would also create a clash with the Republicans.
"Well, we can declare a national emergency, we should not do it because it's just common sense," Trump told reporters along the Rio Grande River, flanked by agents border and stacks of blister border drugs.
But if the talks do not resume, Trump said, "you will see what happens with the national emergency, which I can do very easily and there is no doubt that it holds up."
L & # 39; money: The White House is considering a $ 13.9 billion financing approved by Congress last year for the construction of the Trump Wall in the event it declares an emergency. This bill provided for the funding of various projects of the Army Corps assigned but not spent.
"I can tell you that this is definitely an option that has been presented to the president.Nothing has yet been finalized," said one administration official, who requested the anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
Another administration official confirmed that this option was under consideration, but indicated that other projects were also under discussion.
Negotiations collapse: The comments come one day after negotiations with the best Democrats in the White House have ended acrimoniously, Trump leaving the room when President Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiFox fired an employee for filming a video of Trump Oval Office GOP Senator Denies Trump Fooled Voters About Financing a Pelosi Wall: Trump Wants "A Distraction" and not a wall MORE (D-Calif.) refused his wall request funding.
And negotiations involving moderate GOP senators who allegedly linked an immigration solution to the funding of the border wall were canceled on Thursday, with Senators accusing Trump and President Nancy Pelosi of lacking resolve (D -Calif.) To reach an agreement.
Republicans are wary: Republican senators are afraid to cross Trump on major issues such as the border, where the party's base is pressuring Trump not to give in, and many have stopped in front of a categorical opposition using a declaration of "no". urgency or by sending ultimatums to the President.
But Congress jumping up and declaring a national emergency would be in direct contradiction to the public warnings of Republican lawmakers, including some of the president's traditional allies in Congress. Several of them have made it clear that they would prefer to resolve the stalemate through negotiations, describing a national emergency declaration as "the last thing you do" and urging the president to " to show the slightest ".
The controversy over the use of the statement option is the latest sign of division between Senate Republicans and Trump on the party's closing strategy. The chamber adopted a palliative measure late last month to prevent a partial halt, but Mr Trump, under the fire of conservative experts, opposed the move and has since doubled its demand for a ban. additional funding of more than $ 5 billion.
But Graham says to go from the front: Senator Lindsey GrahamAccording to Lindsey Olin GrahamKey, Democrat, the border setting is disproportionate The Hill & # 39; s Morning – Groundhog Day: Negotiations are imploding, while the office closure lasts 20 days Blumenthal: the Department of Justice Denies Dems Meetings with AG Candidate, Mr. Barr, Citing Closure SUITE (RS.C.) Thursday Trump Should Declare a National Emergency to Build US-Mexico Border Wall After the failure of the latest negotiations in the Senate.
"It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall / fence, and I hope it will work," Graham said in a statement.
Graham's decision to support the president by stating that the migration to the southern border is a national emergency follows remarks earlier this week when he told reporters that this should be the "last one". recourse "and not the" preferred way ".
BOEING BOOK OF RESERVOIRS WITH "DEFICIENCIES" AT THE AIR FORCE: The Air Force received Thursday Boeing's first round of tankers late payment, although the plane still has "anomalies" that must be corrected, according to a spokesman.
"We have identified, and Boeing has agreed to address, its deficiencies discovered in the remote vision system development tests," Air Force spokesman Captain Hope Cronin said in a statement. . "The Air Force has mechanisms in place to ensure that Boeing meets its contractual obligations as we continue initial operational testing and assessments."
What is the KC-46A? KC-46A, an in-flight refueler, is intended to replace the aging fleet of KC-135 Air Force tankers. Boeing defeated Airbus to win a $ 4.9 billion contract for the program in 2011, and the Air Force plans to purchase 179 new aircraft, of which 52 will be manufactured by Boeing.
However, the program has been affected by cost overruns and delays.
The delivery of the first four Pegasus tankers is over two years late. And the camera system used in refueling operations could take years to repair completely.
Air Force could hold dollars on patches: The Air Force is contractually allowed to withhold up to $ 28 million per aircraft once delivered, in order to put pressure on Boeing to fix any deficiencies.
"The Ministry of Defense is totally in agreement on the delivery of the KC-46 tankers," Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews said in a statement. "The ministry remains committed to providing US taxpayers with the most cost-effective platforms, while providing the best capabilities to men and women who wear uniforms."
–The Hill: Pence: courts would be involved if Trump declared the national emergency for wall
– The hill: Pompeo tears the policies of the Middle East of the Obama era during the Cairo speech
– The Hill: worries increase as the cybersecurity agency struggles during shutdown
– The Hill: The FBI Agents Association calls for the end of the judgments
– Stars and Stripes: The number of veterans employed at Capitol Hill remains low, according to a study
– Reuters: Israel declares US blocking sale of fighter jets to Croatia