Daily on Defense: Countdown to shutdown, the Senate’s long-shot solution, 2nd GOP debate, Austin’s Africa trip wraps

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BY JAMIE MCINTYRE

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COUNTDOWN TO SHUTDOWN: With just three days to avoid a government shutdown that would halt military pay and wreak havoc on the economy, the House and Senate are far apart on their preferred solutions.

Republicans in the House are divided with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who is still pushing for a short-term continuing resolution that would slash most federal spending by 8% (but not for the Pentagon or VA) and attach a hardline border security amendment demanded by his hard-line right flank.

But members of that right flank are pushing to pass four individual funding bills — defense, homeland security, agriculture, and state and foreign operations — by Friday, when the current spending authority expires.

"These proposals — I think they're show. I think they will just die in the House. The Senate is obviously going to reject them," Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), co-chairman of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus, said on CNN. "If that's what they need to do, then go ahead and do it. But just make sure before the government shuts down that we pass a continuing resolution, whether it's the Senate's, whether it's the bipartisan proposal the Problem Solvers Caucus has put forward."

MCCARTHY FINALLY SCORED A BIG PROCEDURAL WIN, BUT A SHUTDOWN STILL LOOMS

MEANWHILE IN THE SENATE: Late yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced a bipartisan agreement on a stopgap measure to fund the government through Nov. 17 and provide more than $6 billion in funding for Ukraine and almost $6 billion for disaster assistance.

The compromise continuing resolution, which Schumer called "a bridge away from extremism and towards cooperation," passed the Senate 77-19 but faces an uncertain future in the House, where McCarthy would risk being ousted as speaker if he allows it to go to a vote.

"All last week, Speaker McCarthy catered to the MAGA hard right and has nothing, nothing to show for it," Schumer said in a post on X. "And yet, Speaker McCarthy is still wasting time on MAGA hard right bills that won't get us any closer to avoiding a shutdown."

"Government shutdowns don't produce meaningful policy outcomes. Instead, they leave millions of Americans on edge and put progress on the nation's business on ice," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on X. "Congress should work to avoid a shutdown this week."

SENATE STOPGAP SPENDING BILL CLEARS FIRST PROCEDURAL HURDLE AS SHUTDOWN LOOMS

BRACING FOR DISRUPTION: The Pentagon, along with all the other federal agencies, has told its workers to either stay home or prepare to continue to work without pay if Congress can't act before midnight Friday.

"Troops would go without pay. Military families would be impacted. For folks that are not getting paychecks, that impacts, you know, how and when you can buy groceries, childcare, all of these things. Commissaries would be closed on bases," said Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon spokeswoman. "The U.S. military's going to continue to do its job and protect our national security interests," Singh told reporters. "When you don't have your full operating capacity to be able to help with the mission, to be able to conduct an exercise or training, of course that gets to our national security and readiness."

"We are certainly in touch every day with members of Congress to try to find a way through here," NSC spokesman John Kirby said on CNN. "But ultimately, it's going to come down to Speaker McCarthy and his caucus, and in particular, a small group of extreme Republicans inside the House that seem to be wanting to hold the troops and our national security hostage to make a political point with the speaker."

WHAT TO EXPECT ON CAPITOL HILL THIS WEEK AMID MAD DASH TOWARD GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Good Wednesday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre's Daily on Defense, written and compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre) and edited by Conrad Hoyt. Email here with tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. Sign up or read current and back issues at DailyonDefense.com. If signing up doesn't work, shoot us an email and we'll add you to our list. And be sure to follow me on Threads and/or on X @jamiejmcintyre

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HAPPENING TODAY: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is in Angola, the last stop on his weeklong trip to Africa, which included visits to Djibouti and Kenya. He's scheduled to give a speech at 9 a.m. Washington time at Angola's national archive, which will be livestreamed by the Pentagon on its website.

"Our national security goals in Africa are to continue to build partner capacity and counter violent extremist organizations," Austin told reporters traveling with him, according to a Pentagon transcript. "We want to be a partner of choice for these countries. So we're working with partners to strengthen their capacity and capabilities and to help them manage their own security challenges."

ALSO TODAY: THE 2ND GOP DEBATE: The second Republican presidential primary debate hosted by Fox Business Network will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, beginning at 9 p.m. EDT.

Seven contenders who are facing an uphill battle to dethrone Donald Trump from his front-runner status will take the stage: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND).

Trump is skipping the debate, as he did the first one. Instead, he will deliver a prime-time speech in Michigan in an attempt to appeal to striking members of the United Auto Workers.

EVERYTHING TO KNOW ABOUT THE SECOND GOP DEBATE

DEAD OR ALIVE?: At press time yesterday, there was confusion about whether Ukrainian claims that Adm. Viktor Sokolov, Russia's Black Sea Fleet commander, was killed in a Friday strike on the fleet headquarters building in Sevastopol, Crimea.

A day later, there is still confusion, despite Ukraine "clarifying" its claim with a non-committal comment from its defense minister. Asked by CNN's Christiane Amanpour if he could confirm whether Sokolov was, in fact, dead or alive, Rustem Umerov replied, "Well, first of all, he is in our temporary occupied territory, so he is not — he should not be there at all. So if he is dead, it's good news for everybody that we are continuing to occupy our territory."

The Russian Defense Ministry posted a second video today showing Sokolov talking to reporters in an apparent effort to show he is alive and well, but like the first video posted yesterday, it was undated and unclear if it was file footage.

"Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated on September 26 that he had not received any information from the Russian MoD about the matter and that the Kremlin had nothing to say as this is 'solely [the Russian MoD's] prerogative,'" the Institute for the Study of War said in its daily campaign assessment. "ISW is unprepared at this time to make an assessment about the authenticity of the Russian MoD's footage of Sokolov or about Sokolov's status on Earth," it added.

RUSSIA RELEASES FOOTAGE OF FLEET COMMANDER UKRAINE SAID IT KILLED

'TROUBLING' QUESTIONS ABOUT DOD OFFICIAL'S IRAN TIES: Senate and House Republicans are calling for an investigation into an Iranian-backed influence operation called the Iran Experts Initiative after a report by Semafor said the effort by Iran was aimed at building ties with a network of influential overseas academics and researchers.

The report said one of the academics targeted was Ariane Tabatabai, who currently serves in the Pentagon as the chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations.

"The Iranian regime poses one of the greatest threats to U.S. national security. Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism, their proxies have killed Americans, and they are actively trying to assassinate multiple former U.S. officials," Mike Rogers (R-AL), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. "Recent reporting regarding the affiliation of Ms. Tabatabai to the Iranian regime is troubling. One should think that someone with these close ties to the Iranian regime would not be allowed to work in the U.S. government, obtain a security clearance, or have access to sensitive material."

At yesterday's State Department briefing, spokesman Matthew Miller dismissed the Semafor report as "a story about things that Iran was doing almost a decade ago."

"The one current U.S. government official I did see mentioned [Tabatabai] has written critically of Iran on a number of occasions before joining the government, and underwent a thorough background investigation to obtain a security clearance before joining the State Department," Miller said.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

The Rundown

Washington Examiner: House votes to begin debate on spending bills with just days until government shutdown

Washington Examiner: McCarthy finally scored a big procedural win, but a shutdown still looms

Washington Examiner: Senate stopgap spending bill clears first procedural hurdle as shutdown looms

Washington Examiner: Schumer announces Senate has struck a bipartisan stopgap government funding deal

Washington Examiner: What to expect on Capitol Hill this week amid mad dash toward government shutdown

Washington Examiner: Matt Gaetz issues strongest threat yet to oust McCarthy as speaker

Washington Examiner: GOP could avoid blame for shutdown despite controlling budget process

Washington Examiner: Democratic senator wants inquiry on Egypt influence-peddling after Menendez indictment

Washington Examiner: Russia releases footage of fleet commander Ukraine said it killed

Washington Examiner: Russia pleads for Biden to invite Putin to APEC summit in San Francisco

Washington Examiner: DOJ pushes for reinstatement of Bowe Bergdahl's court-martial conviction

Washington Examiner: DOD abortion travel policy not subject to congressional review, GAO concludes

Washington Examiner: Retired military and Pentagon leaders condemn Trump rhetoric on Milley

Washington Examiner: Democratic senator wants inquiry on Egypt influence-peddling after Menendez indictment

Washington Examiner: Opinion: China unveils its vision for a new world order

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Once Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev is now relegated to social media tirades

Task & Purpose: If the Government Shuts Down, Here's What Troops Can Expect

CNN: North Korea to 'expel' US soldier Travis King, who crossed from South, state media reports

New York Times: Erdogan Says Turkey's Parliament Will Ratify Sweden's Entry Into NATO If The U.S. Sells Turkey Fighter Jets.

AP: China Accuses Taiwan's Government Of Using Economic And Trade Issues To Seek Independence

Reuters: China Says Aim Of Its Drills Near Taiwan Is To Combat 'Arrogance' Of Separatists

New York Times: With The Snip Of A Rope, The Philippines Elevates Resistance To China

USNI News: Ukrainian Attacks On Black Sea Fleet Puts Russia On Defensive, U.K. MoD Says

Wall Street Journal: A Rare Success Emerges in the War on Terror, Somalia

AP: As Gen. Milley Steps Down As Chairman, His Work On Ukraine Is Just One Part Of A Complicated Legacy

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Pentagon Acquisition Boss: China's Defense Base Is 'Really Impressive'

The War Zone: Little Stealthy Flying Wing Drone Displayed by South Korea

19fortyfive.com: North Korea and China Aren't the Allies You Think They Are

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Experts: US 'Owes It' to Ukraine to Provide F-16s and Long-Range Missiles

NBC: Why Has The Navy Spent At Least $175M On An Old Ship That May Never Return To Sea?

Defense One: Space Force's Speedy Launch Record Clears Way for Bigger Launches—Faster

EurAsian Times: US Air Force Holds 'No-Notice' Military Drills Right Next to China

DefenseScoop: Air Force Looks to Put Test Pilots Through Emerging Technology Course

Air & Space Forces Magazine: 'Don't Let the Wing Down': Strike Eagle Crews Recap 'William Tell' Fighter Meet

Space News: Space Force Selects University Partner to Evaluate Classified Ground Systems Software

Calendar

WEDNESDAY | SEPTEMBER 27

8 a.m. 1700 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, Virginia — Intelligence and National Security Alliance forum: "The New IC (Intelligence Community)," with Carmen Medina, former CIA senior executive; Ellen Ardrey, chief of staff at the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency; Kristina Walter, director of the NSA's Future-Ready Workforce Initiative; Dennis Westbrooks, chief diversity officer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's Diversity and Inclusion Group; FBI Supervisory Special Agent Joseph Garbato, FBI chairman of the Marine Corps University; and Christine Abizaid, director of the National Counterterrorism Center https://www.insaonline.org/detail-pages/event

10 a.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute book talk: "Fiasco in Kabul: The Untold Story," with Jerry Dunleavy and James Hasson, coauthors of Kabul: The Untold Story of Biden's Fiasco and the American Warriors Who Fought to the End; and Rebeccah Heinrichs, senior fellow and director, Keystone Defense Initiative https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fiasco-in-kabul-the-untold-story

10 a.m. 2118 Rayburn — House Armed Services Quality of Life Subcommittee hearing: "Update on Unaccompanied Military Housing and the Military Housing Privatization Initiative," with testimony from Elizabeth Field, director, Defense Capabilities and Management Government Accountability Office; Carla Coulson, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for installations, housing, and partnerships; Robert Thompson, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations, and environment; and Robert Moriarty, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations https://armedservices.house.gov/hearings/qol-hearing

12 p.m. CVC-120, U.S. Capitol — Cato Institute briefing: "Pariah or Partner? Reevaluating the U.S.-Saudi Relationship," with Jon Hoffman, Cato foreign policy analyst, and Lawrence Montreuil, Cato director of government affairs https://www.cato.org/events/pariah-or-partner

2 p.m. — Atlantic Council virtual discussion: "An Allied Approach to Countering Beijing's Military-Civil Fusion," with Nazak Nikakhtar, commissioner for export controls at the Global Tech Security Commission; Dave Stillwell, commissioner for defense at the Global Tech Security Commission; Claire Chu, Janes senior China analyst; Ryan Heath, Axios global technology correspondent; and Anna Puglisi, senior fellow at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event

2:30 p.m. 216 Hart — Senate Intelligence Committee hearing: "Countering China's malign influence operations in the U.S.," with testimony from Glenn Tiffert, distinguished research fellow, Hoover Institute; Sarah Cook, senior adviser for China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, Freedom House; and Alan Kohler, president Pamir Consulting, former assistant director, the FBI's Counterintelligence Division https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/hearings/open-hearing

4:30 p.m. — Foundation for Defense of Democracies Center on Economic and Financial Power discussion: "Bolstering American Economic Statecraft," with Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) https://www.fdd.org/events/2023/09/27/bolstering-american-economic-statecraft

9 p.m. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California — The Republican National Committee hosts the second presidential primary debate, hosted by Fox Business Network

THURSDAY | SEPTEMBER 28

8:45 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: "China's Strategy of Political Warfare: Views from Congress," with Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) https://www.csis.org/events/chinas-strategy-political-warfare

9:30 a.m. — Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to consider nominations of Derek Chollet to be undersecretary of defense for policy and Cara Abercrombie to be assistant secretary of defense for acquisition https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings

9 a.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Wilson Center's Polar Institute conference: "The Rules-Based Order in Antarctica and Global Challenges," with Coast Guard Deputy Commandant for Operations Vice Adm. Peter Gautier https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/rules-based-order-antarctica-and-global-challenges

9:30 a.m. 760 Maine Ave. SW — 2023 Atlantic Festival, with speakers including Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Secretary of State Antony Blinken; Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI); and others. Full agenda at https://www.theatlantic.com/live/atlantic-festival-2023/#agenda

10 a.m. 2118 Rayburn — House Armed Services Committee hearing: "Examining Irregularity in the Strategic Basing Process for U.S. Space Command," with testimony from Frank Kendall, secretary of the Air Force; Army Gen. James Dickinson, commander, U.S. Space Command; and Space Force Gen. Chance Saltzman, chief of space operations https://armedservices.house.gov/hearings

12:30 p.m. 529 14th Street NW — National Press Club "Headliners Luncheon," with Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, director of the National Security Agency and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command https://www.press.org/events/npc-headliners-luncheon-general-nakasone

3 p.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute discussion: "NATO and the Franco-American Alliance," with French Ambassador to NATO Muriel Domenach https://www.hudson.org/events/nato-franco-american-alliance

5 p.m. 1521 16th Street NW — Institute of World Politics lecture: "The Structure of INDOPACOM and Comparable U.S. Agencies for the Asia-Pacific Region," with Gordon Rudd, professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Marine School of Advanced Warfighting https://www.iwp.edu/events/the-structure-of-indopacom

FRIDAY | SEPTEMBER 29

9 a.m. — Hudson Institute virtual discussion: "India's Role in a New Pacific Order," with Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar; Jayant Sinha, chairman of the Indian Parliament's Standing Committee on Finance; Stephen Biegun, senior vice president of Boeing; and retired Indian Vice Adm. Shekhar Sinha, chairman of the board of trustees of the India Foundation https://www.hudson.org/events/indias-role-new-pacific-order

10 a.m. Summerall Field, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia — Armed Forces Farewell Tribute in honor of retiring Army Gen. Mark Milley, 20th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff https://www.defense.gov/News/Live-Events

11 a.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Wilson Center book discussion: Catastrophes, Confrontations, and Constraints: How Disasters Shape the Dynamics of Armed Conflicts, with co-author Tobias Ide, associate professor at Murdoch University Perth; and co-author Marwa Daoudy, associate professor at Georgetown University https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/catastrophes-confrontations-and-constraints

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QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I think it is a serious proposition. He tried to put me in jail for publishing the book. But the question is just because Trump tries to do it, do you think the institutions simply dissolve? I don't think that happens."
Former national security adviser John Bolton on whether, if elected, former President Donald Trump might try to prosecute Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley for treason.
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