Daily on Defense: Biden to sign aid bill, Schumer and McConnell align, Blinken to China, UK goes on ‘war footing,’ forced TikTok sale faces legal challenges

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'A BIPARTISAN MAJORITY ANSWERED HISTORY'S CALL': After six months of stubborn resistance from a small faction of Republicans in Congress, a $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan cleared a final hurdle in the Senate on a resounding 79-18 vote late last night.

President Joe Biden promised to sign the bill into law first thing this morning, and the Pentagon said it expects to deliver crucial weapons and munitions to Ukraine "within days."

"A bipartisan majority in the Senate joined the House to answer history's call at this critical inflection point," Biden said in a statement released last night. "I will sign this bill into law and address the American people as soon as it reaches my desk … so we can begin sending weapons and equipment to Ukraine this week."

The Pentagon has prepared a $1 billion initial emergency package for immediate delivery that includes air defense missiles and launchers, as well as critically needed 155 mm artillery shells. 

"We have created a very robust logistics network to enable the delivery of aid into Ukraine," Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said at yesterday's Pentagon briefing ahead of the vote. "We’re going to do everything we can to lean forward, employ that robust logistics network capability, employ the relationships that we’ve built with our international allies and partners to get aid there quickly."


'THE HOLIDAY FROM HISTORY IS OVER': Despite the torturous route to passage, the final vote on the aid legislation marked a victory of bipartisan national security values over the isolationist wing of the Republican Party, an outcome secured by a rare alliance between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

"Leader McConnell and I, who don't always agree, worked hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder to get this bill done. Together, we were bipartisan and persistent," Schumer said. "These isolationists have now secured their ignominious place in history as the ones who'd see America stick its head in the sand as our enemies sought to undermine us."

"The holiday from history is over," McConnell said on the Senate floor before the vote. "Will the Senate indulge the fantasy of pulling up a drawbridge? Will we persist in the 21st century with an approach that failed in the 20th? Or will we dispense with the myths of isolationism and embrace reality?

"So much of the hesitation and shortsightedness that has delayed this moment is premised on sheer fiction. And I take no pleasure in rebutting misguided fantasies," McConnell said in a rebuke of some members of his party. "I wish, sincerely, that recognizing the responsibilities of American leadership was the price of admission for serious conversations about the future of our national security."

"I will not mince words when members of my own party take the responsibilities of American leadership lightly," he said.


AND THEN THERE'S TUBERVILLE: One of the most vocal opponents of the aid was Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who in an impassioned floor speech called the vote an example of "the swamp at its worst — a swamp more concerned about maintaining power and being smarter than everybody else and lining the pockets of their friends than representing the interest of American people."

"Instead of debating legislation to close the border and fix the economy, we are about to send billions of dollars to one of the most corrupt countries in the world," Tuberville railed. "The war in Ukraine is [at a] stalemate. It has been for a while. Pouring more money into Ukraine's coffers will only prolong the conflict and lead to more loss of life. No one at the White House, the Pentagon, or the State Department can articulate what victory looks like in this fight. They couldn't when we sent the first tranche of aid over two years ago."

"We should be working with Ukraine and Russia to negotiate an end to this madness. That's called diplomacy, by the way — a tactic this administration has been completely unwilling to use," Tuberville said. "I had a classified briefing from the Department of Defense just this morning. I can tell you there is no justification to prioritize Ukraine's security before our own. None. To add insult to injury, we are financing this conflict on the backs of the American taxpayer."


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 Stacey Dec. 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


HAPPENING TODAY: Secretary of State Antony Blinken will spend the next three days in China in an attempt to rebuild relations with Beijing as he brings a laundry list of concerns to discuss with Chinese officials.

"We are in a different place than we were a year ago when the bilateral relationship was at a historic low point," a senior State Department official told reporters last week. "We have set out to stabilize the bilateral relationship without sacrificing our capacity to strengthen our alliances, compete vigorously, and defend our interests."

One of the top concerns is China's support for Russia's defense industrial base, which is helping Moscow work around Western sanctions by providing "a range of dual-use materials and weapons components" that Russia is using to advance its military production.

"Through Chinese support, Russia has largely reconstituted its defense industrial base, which has an impact not just on the battlefield in Ukraine but poses a larger threat, we believe, to broader European security," the official said.

"If China purports on the one hand to want good relations with Europe and other countries, it can't on the other hand be fueling what is the biggest threat to European security since the end of the Cold War," Blinken said last week.

"The secretary will raise clearly and candidly our concerns on issues ranging from human rights, unfair economic and trade practices, to the global economic consequences of PRC industrial overcapacity," the official briefed reporters, saying Blinken will also "focus on implementing the leaders’ commitments in San Francisco to advance cooperation on issues such as counternarcotics, bolster mil-mil communication, and establish talks on artificial intelligence risks and safety."


CSIS RUSSIA REPORT: The Center for Strategic and International Studies is out with a new report examining how Russia’s defense industry has figured out how to ramp up arms production despite Western sanctions.

The report, "Back in Stock? The State of Russia’s Defense Industry after Two Years of the War," details how the Kremlin has been able to get around sanctions by "turning to countries willing to supply its defense sector or by using complex cut-outs to acquire Western components indirectly."

"With these parts and components secured, Russia has been able to leverage its sizable weapons stockpiles built up over the Cold War period," it noted. "These stockpiles of aging and often outdated equipment have enabled the Russian defense industry to overhaul and modernize older platforms quickly and at lower cost."

The CSIS analysts suggest five central recommendations, including targeting Russia’s oil revenues, closing sanctions loopholes and enforcing existing export controls, and collaborating with the countries of the global south.


SUNAK PUTS U.K. ON 'WAR FOOTING': British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced yesterday that he's putting the United Kingdom's defense industry on a "war footing," with a plan to increase defense spending to 2.5% of GDP by 2030, which he called the "biggest strengthening of our national defense in a generation to meet the challenge of an increasingly dangerous world."

Sunak, in a speech in Poland, said Europe is at a "turning point" and called on other allies to step up. "In a world that is the most dangerous it has been since the end of the Cold War, we cannot be complacent," Sunak said, appearing alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. He also pledged to send $620 million in weapons and military aid to Ukraine.

"Today is a turning point for European security and a landmark moment in the defense of the United Kingdom," he said. "It is a generational investment in British security and British prosperity, which makes us safer at home and stronger abroad."


TIKTOK BILL: Included in the $95 billion foreign aid bill is a provision that would require TikTok's China-based parent company, ByteDance, to sell the social media platform or face a ban. With President Joe Biden pledging to sign the bill, the law will set up legal challenges given that China opposes the sale.

The compromise legislation gives ByteDance nine months to sell TikTok and provides for an additional three months to complete the sale, and it specifies that the company no longer have access to the algorithm that suggests videos to users.

"TikTok is not an ordinary social media app. The CCP-influenced platform can use our own data against us and seeks to influence American public opinion," Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) said in a statement, which noted the provision does not ban TikTok. "The platform would still remain available to users, provided it is purchased by a company not based in China nor more than 20 percent owned by Chinese persons."

"I have serious concerns about any app that gives unfriendly foreign governments access to Americans’ private data, and I believe there is a legitimate security risk caused by TikTok's relationship to its China-based corporate parent," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said in a statement. "However, I remain concerned that this bill could have negative effects on free speech around the world, does too little to protect Americans' privacy from being sold to China through third parties, and provides broad authority that could be abused by a future administration to violate Americans' First Amendment rights."

"I plan to watchdog how this legislation is implemented, and will blow the whistle if the executive branch oversteps beyond the purpose of the bill," Wyden said. 




Washington Examiner: Senate sends Ukraine aid to Biden's desk with majority of GOP support

Washington Examiner: Biden to sign National Security package bill on Wednesday, sending billions in aid to Ukraine and Israel

Washington Examiner: Senate forces sale of TikTok despite vow of legal challenges

Washington Examiner: McConnell celebrates Ukraine aid test vote but blames Tucker Carlson for delay

Washington Examiner: Ukraine aid bill paves the way for long-range missile systems

Washington Examiner: Ukraine in 'race against time' as Russia attacks ahead of US aid deliveries

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Wall Street Journal: US Takes Aim at Chinese Banks Aiding Russia War Effort

New York Times: In Ukraine, new American technology won the day. Until it was overwhelmed.

Bloomberg: Biden's New Chopper Is Demoted After Scorching White House Lawn

Air & Space Forces Magazine: F-35 Tech Upgrade Slips to 2025; 'Truncated' Version in the Fall

Army Times: US Army faces uphill battle to fix aviation mishap crisis

Air Force Times: Air Force Maintenance Mishaps Are Rising. Can a Worksheet Fix It?

CNN: New evidence challenges the Pentagon's account of a horrific attack as the US withdrew from Afghanistan

Washington Post: The US could ban TikTok. These countries have blocked or restricted it.

Defense News: As the US Air Force Fleet Keeps Shrinking, Can it Still Win Wars?

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Saltzman: New Space Force Readiness Model Will Be 'Drastic Change'

Inside Defense: DOD Seeks Changes to Reporting on Space Attacks, Space Domain Awareness Sharing

DefenseScoop: Air Force Issues Call for Cyber, Electromagnetic, Sensing Capabilities to Support ABMS

Air & Space Forces Magazine: South Korea's F-4 Phantoms Fire AGM-142 Popeye Missiles One Last Time Before Retirement

Stars and Stripes: More Raptors Arrive on Okinawa as Part of Rotating Fighter Presence

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Classified Lockheed Program to Lose $1 Billion Before Becoming a 'Franchise'

Military.com: Small Fraction of Soldiers Experiencing Sexual Harassment Filed Complaints, Pentagon Watchdog Finds

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Why a C-130 Crew Braved a 26 Hour Flight to Guam

The Hill: Biden to deliver commencement addresses at Morehouse College and West Point

Washington Post: Opinion: The US— and Its Troops Abroad—Are Vulnerable to Low-Flying Drones

Defense News: Opinion: Now is Not the Time to Scale Back on the B-21 Bomber Program

The Cipher Brief: Opinion: After Resignation of Israel's Intelligence Chief, Will Other Heads Roll?

The Cipher Brief: Opinion: Buildup, Tuneup and Cleanup: Inside the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Program



8:30 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies International Security Program in-person and virtual discussion: "Global Security Forum 2024: Gathering Strength in a Gathering Storm," with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. and Avril Haines, director of national intelligence, as well as additional senior national security officials and experts https://www.csis.org/events/global-security-forum

10 a.m. — Air and Space Forces Association virtual discussion: "How the U.S. Space Force is applying and executing electromagnetic warfare in, from, and to space,” with Col. Nicole “Gucci” Petrucci, commander, Space Force Space Delta https://www.afa.org/events/air-space-warfighters-in-action-col-nicole-petrucci/

1 p.m. — Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies virtual discussion: "Top issues for NATO’s Allied Air Command as it adapts to a rapidly changing security environment,” with U.K. Royal Air Force Air Marshal Johnny Stringer, deputy commander of the NATO Allied Air Command https://mitchellaerospacepower.org/event/4-24-aerospace-nation

2 p.m. — Aerospace Industries Association webinar for news media: "National Security Space budget," with Steve Jordan Tomaszewski, AIA senior director, national security space; Sam Wilson, Aerospace Corporation; and Todd Harrison, American Enterprise Institute senior fellow. RSVP: [email protected]

7 p.m. 3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW — Cathedral College of Faith and Culture discussion: “Principles and Politics,” with former Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney and historian Jon Meacham https://cathedral.org/calendar/principles-politics

8 p.m. — Jews United for Democracy and Justice virtual discussion: “Russia’s War on Ukraine,” with Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal chief foreign affairs correspondent, and Max Boot, senior fellow in national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations https://www.jewsunitedfordemocracy.org/event/april-24-trofimov-boot


9 a.m. 1200 South Hayes St., Arlington, Virginia — Rand Corporation and the Polish Institute of International Affairs discussion: “Long War in Europe: Options for the U.S., Poland, and Allies for 2024 and Beyond," with Daniel Szeligowski, head of the PISM Eastern Europe Program; Ann Dailey, Rand policy researcher; Anna Tyszkiewicz, deputy director of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s International Security Department; and Kestutis Paulauskas, senior strategy officer at NATO Allied Command Transformation https://www.rand.org/events/2024/04/long-war-in-europe.htm

11 a.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave NW — Hudson Institute in-person and virtual book discussion: "Tackling the China Challenge with Strength," with Michael Sobolik, author of Countering China's Great Game and senior fellow of the Indo-Pacific Program at the American Foreign Policy Council, and Olivia Enos, Hudson senior fellow https://www.eventbrite.com/e/book-event-tackling-the-china-challenge

2 p.m. — Defense One virtual discussion: “How the Marines are preparing for future conflicts and contingencies in the Pacific,” with Brig. Gen. Daniel Shipley, deputy commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, and Kyle Dewar, director of technical account management for the public sector at Tanium https://events.defenseone.com/defense-one-service-branch-spotlight

3 p.m. — Common Good virtual discussion: "Concerns About Gaza and Israeli Leadership,” with retired Israel Defense Forces Maj. Gen. Amnon Reshef; Rula Jebreal, journalist and foreign policy analyst; and Richard Salomon, lawyer and CEO of Vantage Point https://www.thecommongoodus.org/upcoming-events

4 p.m. 1789 Massachusetts Ave. NW — American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research film screening and discussion: Before Bucha Was Abkhazia, a documentary tracking Russian war crimes in Georgia, with Giga Bokeria, chairman of European Georgia and former secretary of the National Security Council of Georgia; Iulia Joja, director of the Middle East Institute’s Black Sea Program; Dalibor Rohac, AEI senior fellow; and Giselle Donnelly, AEI senior fellow https://www.aei.org/events/the-eastern-front-special


2 p.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW — Brookings Institution Governance Studies program and Count Every Hero in-person and virtual panel discussion: "The recent surge in non-federal National Guard deployments and what that means for the U.S. military and the 2024 elections," with Scott Anderson, fellow, governance studies and general counsel and senior editor, Lawfare; Kyle Miller, Pennsylvania policy strategist, Protect Democracy; retired Gen. Craig McKinley, U.S. Air Force; 26th chief of the National Guard Bureau; Paul Stockton, former assistant secretary of defense, homeland security; retired Gen. Joseph Lengyel, U.S. Air Force; 28th chief of the National Guard Bureau; retired Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, U.S. Air Force, former adjutant general of Nebraska, and immediate past president of the Adjutants General Association of the U.S.; and retired Brig. Gen. Allyson Solomon, U.S. Air Force, former assistant adjutant general of Maryland https://www.brookings.edu/events/domestic-deployment-of-the-national-guard/

"I think the demonization of Ukraine began with Tucker Carlson, who in my opinion ended up where he should have been all along, which is interviewing Vladimir Putin. … He had an enormous audience, which convinced a bunch of rank-and-file Republicans that maybe this was a mistake."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), speaking to reporters Tuesday
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