Monday, October 2, 2023

Daily on Defense: Winners and losers in the shutdown showdown, McCarthy’s next hurdle, angst on the Hill, Milley’s parting shot

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MANY WINNERS, ONE BIG LOSER: The continuing resolution passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Joe Biden Saturday night will buy seven more weeks to resolve the deep divisions over the federal budget for the fiscal year that has just begun. The final version of the stopgap measure keeps spending at current levels, adds $16 billion for disaster relief, and includes $621 to fund procurement of a new Columbia class ballistic missile submarine, but it has no money for Ukraine.

The final vote tally in the House was 335-91 and in the Senate was 88-9.

The last-ditch compromise is a win for the Pentagon because it means hundreds of thousands of troops and civilian DOD workers won't have to go without pay.

It's a win for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) because although passage required votes from Democrats, he didn't negotiate with them. When all else failed, he simply presented them with an option that met their minimum conditions.

It's a win for Democrats because it underscores that McCarthy is unable to advance legislation without them, giving them more leverage in the coming budget negotiations.

And it's a loss for bipartisan supporters of Ukraine because it sends a message to the rest of the world, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, that America's commitment to supporting Ukraine "as long as it takes" is under attack by a faction of the Republican Party.


BIDEN: 'STOP PLAYING GAMES': In remarks the morning after the raucous Saturday session, Biden said he believes he has an agreement to allow a separate vote on Ukraine aid, which would undoubtedly pass the House with wide bipartisan support.

"I fully expect the speaker to keep his commitment for the secure passage and support needed to help Ukraine as they defend themselves against aggression and brutality. And folks, you know, there's an overwhelming number of Republicans and Democrats in both the House and the Senate who support Ukraine. Let's vote on it," Biden said yesterday afternoon. "Stop playing games. Get this done. … Quite frankly, I'm sick and tired. I'm sick and tired of the brinksmanship [sic], and so are the American people."

On CBS, McCarthy indicated any legislation that includes more money for Ukraine would also have to fund the House GOP border security initiatives. "I support being able to make sure Ukraine has the weapons that they need, but I firmly support the border first. So we've got to find a way that we can do this together."

McCarthy argued the administration still has about $3 billion in available funds for Ukraine and seemed to rule out a stand-alone supplemental appropriations measure for future funding. "I'm telling you that the American border matters and that is our priority to make sure we secure that," he said. "I'm going to make sure that the weapons are provided for Ukraine, but they're not going to get some big package if the border is not secure."


'I WILL SURVIVE': The first hurdle McCarthy has to clear is the effort by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to remove him from his post as speaker of the House in retaliation for relying on Democrats to pass a CR with none of the far-right policy priorities, including a demand for deep cuts in federal spending.

"I'm going to file a motion to vacate against him this week," Gaetz posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, yesterday after making a round of media appearances. "If at this time next week Kevin McCarthy is still Speaker of the House, it will be because the Democrats bailed him out. He can be their Speaker, not mine."

"I will survive," McCarthy said on CBS. "You know, this is personal with Matt. Matt voted against the most conservative ability to protect our border, secure our border. He's more interested in securing TV interviews than doing something.

"So be it. Bring it on. Let's get it over with, and let's start governing," he said. "If he's upset because he tried to push us into a shutdown and I made sure the government didn't shut down, then let's have that fight."


Good Monday 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: Foreign ministers from the European Union's 27 member countries are in Kyiv today for an unannounced informal meeting to show support for Ukraine and discuss President Volodymyr Zelensky's proposed peace formula.

The Europeans are keeping a close eye on what's happening with Ukraine funding in the U.S. Congress, while EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell insisted the EU's commitment to Ukraine is "unwavering."

"We don't feel that the U.S. support has been shattered," said Ukraine Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba. "The United States understands that what is at stake in Ukraine is much bigger than just Ukraine. It's about the stability and predictability of the world, and therefore, I believe that we will be able to find necessary solutions."

ANGST ON THE HILL: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is one of many Republicans in Congress who strongly back continued military and economic assistance to Ukraine. "I am confident the Senate will pass further urgent assistance to Ukraine later this year," McConnell said on the Senate floor yesterday. "Senate Republicans remain committed to helping our friends on the front lines, to investing more heavily in the American strength that reinforces our allies, and to deterring our top strategic adversary, China."

But Democrats argued the opposition to Ukraine funding by far-right House GOP members can only embolden Putin's strategy to hold out until after the next presidential election in hopes that U.S. support will collapse.

"Though the Speaker finally brought a continuing resolution to the floor that House Democrats could support, it came at a staggering cost. By stripping supplemental funding to Ukraine from the funding bill, the Speaker has broadcast a dangerous message to Putin and the world," Rep. Adam Smith (R-WA), ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. "Our competitors and enemies around the globe are watching. Also watching are our allies and partners, those who stand and fight with us."

"We are gravely disappointed that a few extreme Republicans in the House were able to prevent the inclusion of additional aid for our allies in Ukraine, even as 330 members of the House — Republicans and Democrats — voted just three days ago in support of funding for Ukraine," Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) said in a joint statement. "However, this bill will keep the federal government open for the next 47 days, during which we'll continue to work to pass bipartisan spending bills that renew our commitment to Ukraine in its fight for democracy."


PUTTING ON A BRAVE FACE: As Ukraine sees support slipping for what is proving to be a long and grueling war, it's putting on a brave public face.

"To the skeptics out there who lack confidence in the strength and abilities of our Ukrainian soldiers, we want to say this: We are moving forward. We are defeating the enemy. We will win," the Ukrainian Defense Ministry posted on X.

"No one should or will be able to 'turn off our resilience, endurance, grit, and fortitude. Neither on a regular nor an emergency basis. None of them have an 'expiration date' an 'end date,' or a final point after which we would stop resisting and fighting," Zelensky posted. "Tough times have made us strong. And the strong bring the times of victory closer. Step by step. Today, tomorrow, every day, every minute."

WHO'S THE 'WANNABE DICTATOR?' It's a statement of principle that the previous Joint Chiefs chairman, retiring Army Gen. Mark Milley, has invoked many times since the day in June 2020 when he pushed back against former President Donald Trump's desire to deploy active-duty troops to subdue Black Lives Matter protesters, including Trump's suggestion that, maybe, demonstrators could be shot in the legs.

"We are unique among militaries," Milley said at the Nov. 17, 2020, speech. "We do not take an oath to a king or a queen, a tyrant or a dictator. We do not take an oath to an individual. We take an oath to the Constitution."

Milley used that line again in his farewell address on Friday at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's Summerall Field, but he added a zinger: "And we don't take an oath to a wannabe dictator." The comment was widely seen as a parting shot aimed at Trump, who accused Milley of treason for reassuring China the U.S. was not on the verge of attack after Trump lost the 2020 election.

"I don't know who he was referring to there, but I must tell you that Donald Trump's recent comments regarding Gen. Milley were inexcusable," former Vice President Mike Pence said on CNN on Friday. "What I agree with is what Gen. Milley said about the oath that men and women in uniform take."

"I think it's understandable under the circumstances that he would say this," former Defense Secretary William Cohen said, also on CNN. "After all, the former president has put a target on his back by suggesting that he would be guilty of treason and then face the death penalty."

"As far as the treason charge is concerned, that's usually defined as giving aid and comfort to an enemy," Cohen said. "What Gen. Milley had done is he gave aid and comfort to the American people. In doing so, he protected us against any other country acting on the assumption that things were going downhill very rapidly in this country."



The Rundown

Washington Examiner: How McCarthy led his divided conference in avoiding a government shutdown

Washington Examiner: Senate plots Ukraine aid push after averting government shutdown

Washington Examiner: McCarthy in trouble as Gaetz promises vengeance for speaker's partnership with Democrats

Washington Examiner: McCarthy brushes off Gaetz's threats to oust him: 'Bring it on'

Washington Examiner: Gaetz accuses McCarthy of making 'Ukraine deal with Democrats' in passing stopgap

Washington Examiner: Biden says he's 'sick and tired' of the 'brinksmanship' from House Republicans

Washington Examiner: Pelosi mocks Gaetz's attempt to vacate McCarthy: 'He has no sway'

Washington Examiner: GOP majority at odds with presidential primary voters on Ukraine

Washington Examiner: WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich detained in Russian prison six months later

Washington Examiner: White House: US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia have 'basic framework' of normalization deal

Washington Examiner: Navy to start testing special operators for performance-enhancing drugs

Washington Examiner: Putin taps Wagner Group remnants to fight in Ukraine amid drive for new conscripts

Washington Examiner: Pence calls Trump's accusations against Milley 'inexcusable'

Washington Examiner: Milley honored as Charles Q. Brown takes over as next chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff

Washington Examiner: Opinion: US enemies are using Trump's stupid threat to Milley for propaganda

Washington Examiner: Who is Gen. Charles Q. Brown, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? One Recruiting Environment, Two Different Outcomes For Army And Marine Corps

Washington Post: Kyiv Downplays Lack Of Ukraine Aid In New U.S. Spending Bill

Business Insider: Russia Picked The Black Sea Naval Fight It's Now Losing To Ukraine, Which Doesn't Even Have A Fleet Of Its Own

CNN: Winter Is Coming To Ukraine, But Kyiv Is Adapting Its Tactics

The War Zone: Tu-95 Decoys Are Being Painted on Russian Air Base's Apron

The Economist: The costs of Russia's war are about to hit home

Reuters: Two Elves And A Scroll: China Military Releases Animation On Taiwan 'Reunification'

Defense News: Chinese Defense Firms Show Off Counter-Drone Tech At Serbia Arms Show

Inside Defense: Air Force, Army, and DIU Collaborate on Geothermal Energy Solutions

Defense News: F-35 Program Finishes Years-Late Tests Needed for Full Production

BBC: Aukus: UK Defence Giant BAE Systems Wins £3.95bn Submarine Contract

Space News: Space Development Agency Funds Demonstration of Satellite Laser Links in 'Degraded' Environments

Air & Space Forces Magazine: How the Military Can Make Barracks More Livable: New Report

Air & Space Forces Magazine: An Airman Is Chairman: Brown Succeeds Milley, Sworn in as Joint Chiefs Chair

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Watch, Read: CSAF Brown on 'The State of the Air Force'

Marine Corps Times: Camouflage Uniform Shortage Prompts Marine Corps To Relax Attire Rules

National Interest: Former Trump NSA Robert C. O'Brien: Air Force Needs 300-400 B-21 Raiders



3 p.m. — Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies virtual discussion: "U.S.-India Relations: An Important but Ambiguous Partnership," with Sadanand Dhume, American Enterprise Institute resident scholar


9 a.m. 525 New Jersey Ave. NW — Punchbowl News discussion on national security and foreign policy with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA); Andrew Desiderio, senior congressional reporter at Punchbowl News; and Anna Palmer, co-founder and CEO of PunchBowl News

12 p.m. — Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft virtual book discussion: Russia's Foreign Policy: Change and Continuity in National Identity, with author Andrei Tsygankov, professor of Russian and international politics at San Francisco State University

7 p.m. 6100 Main St., Houston, Texas — Rice University's Baker Institute Public Policy Shell Distinguished Lecture Series event, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken; former Secretary of State James Baker, honorary chairman of the Baker Institute; and David Satterfield, director of Rice University's Baker Institute

5 p.m. 521 16th St. NW — The Institute of World Politics lecture: "The U.S. Navy Leading the Way in Cybersecurity, Zero Trust Framework," with Scott St. Pierre, director of enterprise networks and cybersecurity at OPNAV N2N6D


9:30 a.m. 332 Dirksen — A coalition of faith leaders stage a prayer vigil and sit-in to call for a ceasefire and peace talks to end the war in Ukraine, with Michele Dunne, executive director of the Franciscan Action Network; Tarunjit Butalia, executive director of Religions for Peace USA; the Rev. Adam Taylor, president of Sojourners; Joyce Ajlouny, general secretary of the American Friends Service Committee; Amelia Keagan, associate general secretary for policy at the Friends Committee On National Legislation; and Eli McCarthy, fellow at the Franciscan Action Network

10 a.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute discussion on "Integrating a Force for 21st Century Deterrence and Warfighting," with Jim Taiclet, chairman, president, and CEO of Lockheed Martin, and Bryan Clark, director of the Hudson Center for Defense Concepts and Technology

10:30 a.m. 37th and O Sts. NW — Georgetown University's Center for Australian, New Zealand, and Pacific Studies discussion: "Transforming the Indo-Pacific Order: The AUKUS Wager," with Charles Edel, Australia chairman at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

1 p.m. — Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft virtual discussion: "Is U.S.-China Conflict Inevitable?" with Michael Beckley, nonresident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; Jake Werner, research fellow at the Quincy Institute; and Jessica Tuchman Matthews, fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

1 p.m. — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meets with Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara at the Pentagon

2:30 p.m. 419 Dirksen — Senate Foreign Relations East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy Subcommittee hearing: "Security on the Korean Peninsula," with testimony from Victor Cha, senior vice president for Asia and Korea chairman at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Scott Snyder, senior fellow for Korea studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Jenny Town, senior fellow and director of the Stimson Center's 38 North Program


9:30 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW — Center for Strategic and International Studies annual "China's Power: Up for Debate 2023," with Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs; Michael Beckley, director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute's Asia Program; Dan Blumenthal, American Enterprise Institute senior fellow; Fiona Cunningham, assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania; Lonnie Henley, FPRI senior fellow; Phillip Saunders, director of the National Defense University's Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs; Rick Waters, managing director of the Eurasia Group's China practice; Arne Westad, professor at Yale University's School of Global Affairs; Tong Zhao, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Nuclear Policy Program; and Bonny Lin, director of the CSIS China Power Project

9:30 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: "China and Russia's Role in North Korea's Human Rights Abuses," with Sue Mi Terry, Macro Advisory Partners senior adviser; Katrin Fraser Katz, CSIS nonresident adjunct fellow; Victor Cha, CSIS Korea chairman; and Mark Lippert, CSIS nonresident senior adviser

5 p.m. 1521 16th St. NW — The Institute of World Politics book discussion: Failed State: A Guide to Russia's Rupture, with author Janusz Bugajski, senior fellow, Jamestown Foundation


"While the Department of Defense takes pride in the well-maintained golf courses and new EV charging stations at its installations, it has turned a blind eye to the living conditions endured by servicemembers, which can include collapsing ceilings, mold and mildew, and even squatters raiding servicemembers' personal possessions … Any American who serves our country does so knowing they won't be staying at the Ritz, but they rightly expect a basic and safe standard of living."
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), on Government Accountability Office report detailing subpar living conditions in certain military barracks
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