Shutdown seems inevitable, Ukraine funding debated by GOP contenders, Space Command decision reviewed, Milley reacts to Trump rant

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SHUTDOWN TAKES ON AIR OF INEVITABILITY: The question being asked in the halls of Congress is shifting from "Can a government shutdown be averted?" to "How long will the shutdown last, and how will it end?" A series of votes last night in the House on amendments to strip Ukraine funding from the defense appropriations bill — one from Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and one from Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) — failed spectacularly by a more than 200-vote margin, demonstrating there is wide bipartisan support for continuing military assistance to Kyiv.

The votes show that a bipartisan Senate measure — which would fund the government until Nov. 17 while adding $6 billion for Ukraine and $6 billion for U.S. disaster relief — would likely pass with more than 300 votes in the House. Nevertheless, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is adamant he will not rely on Democrats to save the country from a federal government shutdown that will be triggered at midnight on Saturday.

With his hardcore right flank blocking the passage of the individual bill over the inclusion of $300 million for Ukraine, McCarthy agreed to remove the funding. Still, with the passage of the defense bill uncertain in the House and dead on arrival in the Senate, McCarthy is once again pinning his hopes on a House GOP stopgap measure that would cut most federal spending by 8% while bolstering border security.


ON THE DEBATE STAGE: At last night's Republican presidential debate, the sparring over Ukraine funding reflected familiar battlelines, with Vivek Ramaswamy taking the strongest position against further funding and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) vowing "no blank check" for the war effort, while former Vice President Mike Pence, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) made the most full-throated cases for continuing support until Ukraine wins.

"Just because Putin … is an evil dictator does not mean that Ukraine is good," Ramaswamy said. "China is the real enemy. And we're driving Russia further into China's arms. We need a reasonable peace plan to end this."

"A win for Russia is a win for China," Haley retorted. "But I forgot. You like China."

"If you let Putin have Ukraine, that's a green light to China to take Taiwan. Peace comes through strength," Pence said.

"We are not going to have a blank check. We will not have U.S. troops… We are going to make the Europeans do what they need to do," DeSantis said. "They've sent money to pay bureaucrats' pensions and salaries and funding small businesses halfway around the world. Meanwhile, our own country is being invaded."

"The naivete on this stage from some of these folks is extraordinary," Christie said. "The Chinese-Russian alliance is something we have to fight against, and we are not going to solve it by going over and cuddling up to Vladimir Putin. If we give him any of Ukraine, next will be Poland … Listen, everybody, he wants to put the old band back together. And only America can stop it."

"Our national vital interest is in degrading the Russian military. By degrading the Russian military, we actually keep our homeland safer, we keep our troops at home," Scott said. "If you want to keep American troops at home, the attack on NATO territory would bring us and our troops in. By degrading the Russian military, we reduce, if not eliminate, an attack on NATO territories.

"The whole thing is absurd," Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND) said, "We're going to give Ukraine to Russia, and then we're going to give Taiwan to China, and think that's a foreign policy? That will make our nation less successful, make us more poor."


'I HATE THE FORMAT': Former Republican Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, who also served as ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation, was watching the debate hoping that the candidates would put the Ukraine funding debate front and center.

He found himself frustrated with a format that left little time for actual debate. "I hate the format. Three questioners desperately trying to control the impossible to control," Gilmore said in an email last night. "It did allow both sides to comment on the need for support for Ukraine, but the issue was practically ignored by the moderators."

"The debate presented seven capable candidates, all with a grasp of the many issues," Gilmore said, but he was critical of the one-minute response time that he said makes the candidates "frenetic" and "compelled to behave in a petty way in search of the 'breakout moment.'"

"A loud minority in my Republican Party are pushing for the abandonment of Ukraine," Gilmore wrote in an op-ed published yesterday. "This weak and defeatist approach is a radical departure from Reagan's leadership that won the Cold War and opened the door to the liberation of millions of people from authoritarianism. I don't know what they are thinking, but it sure isn't conservative."


Good Thursday 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 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: Things could get a little testy today when the House Armed Services Committee grills three top leaders on President Joe Biden's decision to keep the headquarters of the U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado, instead of relocating it in Huntsville, Alabama, as the Air Force originally decided in the waning days of the Trump administration.

Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) has accused Biden of "political manipulation of the selection process" and has vowed to get answers.

"When the Secretary of the Air Force finally made a decision, he upheld his predecessors' decision to base U.S. Space Command in Huntsville, Alabama," Rogers said last month. "President Biden then usurped the Air Force Secretary's authority and named Colorado Springs the permanent basing site for U.S. Space Command in order to improve his political standing for next year's re-election."

In the hot seat at 10 a.m. will be Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, U.S. Space Commander Gen. James Dickinson, and Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman.

THE LIST OF STALLED NOMINATIONS GROWS: The Senate Armed Services Committee advanced a list of 4,318 military nominations in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Space Force yesterday.

The list includes 38 general officer and flag officer promotions, which are still blocked by Sen. Tommy Tuberville's (R-AL) hold on approving senior officers by unanimous consent. Among the promotions are two more members of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Lisa Franchetti to be chief of naval operations and Gen. David Allvin to be chief of staff of the Air Force.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) allowed individual votes on three other chiefs to get around Tuberville's hold, but it's unclear if he will do the same thing for Franchetti and Allvin.

TUBERVILLE: US MILITARY 'NOT AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER': Tuberville Tuesday waded into the military culture wars, explaining why he didn't vote to confirm Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

"He's got some woke policies," Tuberville said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "I heard him say a few things that really didn't fit with me in terms of making our military better and better."

"I heard some things that he talked about about race and things that he wanted to mix into the military. Let me tell you something: our military is not an equal-opportunity employer. We're looking for the best of the best to do whatever; we're not looking for different groups, social justice groups. We don't want to single-handedly destroy our military from within," Tuberville said.

When pressed for examples, Tuberville cited Brown's efforts to increase the number of minority Air Force pilots, of whom only about 2% are black. "He came out and said we need certain groups, more pilots, certain groups to have an opportunity to be pilots. Listen, I want it to be on merit. I want our military to be the best. I want the best people. I don't care who they are, men, women, it doesn't make any difference."

The comments drew immediate fire from retired military officers. "Having a little experience in 'our military,' it is — actually — an equal opportunity employer," retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling posted on X. "Come to think of it, being 'equal opportunity' is what our country is supposed to be, too."

Equal opportunity has been the official policy of the U.S. military since 1948 when President Harry Truman signed an executive order desegregating the military and guaranteeing "equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin."

MILLEY REACTS TO TRUMP'S EXECUTION JAB: In an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes, scheduled to air on Sunday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, who retires tomorrow, said he has had to take "appropriate measures" to protect himself and his family after former President Donald Trump, in a social media post, accused Milley of treason and said, "in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH!"

"Look, I'm a soldier. I've been faithful and loyal to the Constitution of the United States for 44 and a half years, and my family and I have sacrificed greatly for this country," Milley told CBS anchor Norah O'Donnell. "And you know, as much as these comments are directed at me, it's also directed at the institution of the military."

Asked if there was anything inappropriate or treasonous about the calls he made to China after Trump lost the election, Milley replied, "Absolutely not. Zero. None."

"I'm not going to comment directly on those things, but I can tell you that this military, this soldier, me, will never turn our back on that Constitution."


The Rundown

Washington Examiner: Republican debate: The winners and losers from the second exchange

Washington Examiner: Republican debate: Christie decries 'naivete' of GOP wanting to back away from Ukraine

Washington Examiner: Republican debate: Trump called out by Christie and DeSantis for skipping debate

Washington Examiner: House Rules Committee removes Ukraine aid from defense funding bill

Washington Examiner: House Democrats let McCarthy sweat out 'motion to vacate' threat: 'Did this to himself'

Washington Examiner: Russia needles Japan with threat to join China in banning fish products over nuclear water fears

Washington Examiner: US sanctions foreign entities supporting Iranian drone program used by Russia in Ukraine

Washington Examiner: Soldier in US custody after being 'expelled' from North Korea

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Could Russian spies in UK be traded for Evan Gershkovich?

Washington Examiner: Philippines hosts 'warfighting' drills with US as China maritime dispute flares

Washington Examiner: Solomon Islands prime minister slams Biden 'lecture' as China peels away traditional US friend

Washington Examiner: Lloyd Austin stresses importance of civilian control of military in Africa following coups

AP: Video appears to show Pvt. Travis King's return to U.S. landing in San Antonio, Texas

Air & Space Forces Magazine: How a Government Shutdown Would Affect Airmen and Guardians

Bloomberg: Elon Musk Wins US Space Force Contract for Starshield

Politico: Menendez Ouster Improves Odds for F-16 Sale to Turkey, Top Republican Says

Breaking Defense: Pentagon Declares Second Nunn-McCurdy Cost Breach for F-15 Electronic Warfare Kit

Defense News: From Parts to Hypersonics, Pentagon Sees 3D Printing as 'Game Changer'

Air & Space Forces Magazine: U-2 Makes First Flight with Updated Avionics, Navigation, and Comms

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Space Force Considers New Component in Japan, As Saltzman Bolsters Ties With Visit

DefenseScoop: Task Force Lima Chief Gives First Look at DOD's Vision for Rapidly Exploring the Uncertain Power of Generative AI

Defense One: Space Force Contracts for New 'Zero-Trust' Data Protection

Breaking Defense: Space Force Wrapping Up Plan to Buy C2 Software for Maneuvering Sats

New York Post: Opinion: How US taxpayer dollars line the pockets of Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad

Air & Space Forces Magazine: First Step to Modernizing Air Force Tech School: Free Wi-Fi in the Dorms

The Cipher Brief: The Ukraine Diaries: Is Ukraine a Vital U.S. National Security Interest?

The Cipher Brief: Security Guarantees for Ukraine: Reshaping Russia's Incentives

The Cipher Brief: The Future of Cyberwar is Being Shaped in Ukraine



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)

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

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

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

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

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

1:30 p.m. — Cipher Brief discussion: "The Future of Open Source Intelligence: A View from the CIA," with Randy Nixon, the CIA's director of open source enterprise

3 p.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute discussion: "NATO and the Franco-American Alliance," with French Ambassador to NATO Muriel Domenach

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


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

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

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


"The American people can take it to the bank that all of us, every single one of us, from private to general, will be loyal to that Constitution and will never turn it back on it no matter what. No matter what the threats, no matter what the humiliation, no matter what. If we're willing to die for that document, if we're willing to deploy to combat, if we're willing to lose an arm or leg an eye to protect and support and defend that document and protect the American people, then we're willing to live for it, too."
Gen. Mark Milley, in an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes airing Sunday.
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