Daily on Defense: Israel strikes back, NATO seeks more Patriots, Democrats needed to pass Ukraine aid, Johnson eschews bipartisan help to save his job

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BY JAMIE MCINTYRE

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ISRAEL STRIKES BACK: In the overnight hours, Israel carried out what appeared to be a limited, retaliatory strike on a military base in central Iran near the city of Isfahan, with the first confirmation of explosions at the base coming from Iranian officials. The Israeli news outlet Haaretz reported the base is "home to some Iranian nuclear facilities," but a U.S. official told CNN the target was not nuclear. According to a Syrian news agency, Israel also targeted air defense positions in southern Syria. 

Israel had not publicly commented as of this morning, and Iran has not blamed Israel for what appeared to be a series of three explosions. Iranian state media said "three small drones" were intercepted by its air defenses and that there was no significant damage to the base. 

The International Atomic Energy Agency also said there was no damage to Iran's nuclear facilities. "IAEA can confirm that there is no damage to #Iran's nuclear sites," the agency said on X. "[Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi] continues to call for extreme restraint from everybody and reiterates that nuclear facilities should never be a target in military conflicts. IAEA is monitoring the situation very closely."

An Israeli official told the Washington Post the attack was "intended to signal to Iran that Israel had the ability to strike inside the country." A second person quoted by the newspaper said the strike was "carefully calibrated."

The initial reports, despite being sketchy, immediately triggered a brief spike in oil prices on the world market and sent U.S. stock index futures down.

IRAN NOT PLANNING FOR AN 'IMMEDIATE RESPONSE' AFTER ISRAEL STRIKE

SANCTIONS TAKE AIM AT IRAN'S DRONES: Both the United States and the United Kingdom slapped a new round of sanctions on Iran, underscoring the effort to punish Iran economically, instead of militarily, for its massive but failed assault on Israel with 300 drones and missiles on Saturday.

"We're using Treasury's economic tools to degrade and disrupt key aspects of Iran's malign activity, including its UAV program and the revenue the regime generates to support its terrorism," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement. "We will continue to deploy our sanctions authority to counter Iran with further actions in the days and weeks ahead."

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control is targeting "16 individuals and two entities enabling Iran's UAV production," including engine types that power Iran's Shahed variant unmanned aerial vehicles, which were used in the April 13 attack. 

IRANIAN ATTACK ON ISRAEL SPARKS US CONCERN ABOUT WIDER, REGIONAL CONFLICT

Good Friday 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

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HAPPENING TODAY: The NATO-Ukraine Council meets in Brussels today in an attempt to address Ukraine's critical need for more air defenses, in particular more U.S.-made Patriot missile battery systems, which have proven to be the most effective system on the battlefield.

"We are working on that now. I cannot make any specific announcements, but we are working on the possibility of more Patriot batteries to Ukraine," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday ahead of a meeting of the G7 foreign ministers in Capri. "We're in dialogue with some specific countries."

"I see some important, encouraging signs when it comes to NATO allies stepping up support for Ukraine," Stoltenberg said. "Just this week, we had the new announcements from Denmark, from the Netherlands announcing 4 billion more euros for defense for Ukraine. Then we have, of course, Germany announcing a full Patriot battery to strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses."

At a news conference after yesterday's European Council meeting, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Germany is trying to find six more Patriot air defense systems in NATO countries in addition to the one it has promised for Ukraine. 

CIA CHIEF: UKRAINE COULD 'LOSE' RUSSIA WAR IN 2024 WITHOUT US AID

UKRAINE AID NEEDS DEMOCRATS TO PASS: It's a reality of which Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is painfully aware. His caucus is so fractured, and his majority so thin, there is almost nothing he can do without help from the Democrats. 

Republicans can only lose two votes to pass anything on their own, and that margin will drop to a single vote when Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) resigns as promised this weekend.

"Everybody can grumble about details of the legislation. What I remind my friends: Listen, we’re not going to get 100% of what we want right now because we have the smallest majority in history, and we only have the majority in one chamber," Johnson said earlier this week. "But we got a great product here at the end, much better than the alternative that came in the Senate supplemental."

Johnson's version of the Senate's $95 billion emergency supplemental appropriation cleared its first major hurdle yesterday, when three Democrats joined Republicans on the rules committee to send the four separate bills to the floor for debate. Final passage will require Democrats, who usually sit out rule votes, to move the legislation along.

"Democrats will not be responsible for this bill failing," Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said yesterday.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS TURN ON ONE ANOTHER AS THEY DEBATE THROWING JOHNSON OVER THE LEDGE

JOHNSON: 'I HAVE NOT ASKED ANY DEMOCRATS TO GET INVOLVED': While Johnson will need Democrats to pass the aid legislation for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan, he's not asking for them to save his job as speaker as members of his party, furious over the aid to Ukraine, are threatening to force a vote on his ouster.

"I have not asked any Democrats to get involved in that. I believe the House will do its will," Johnson said. "I’m trying to govern and lead this institution at a very interesting, unprecedented time. We have challenges right now that no previous generation has faced."

"The speaker’s job is effectively impossible now," Johnson said, quoting a social media post from Newt Gingrich. "He said that I’m doing the hardest job that maybe has ever been in the history of the U.S. House. Maybe he said arguably since the Civil War."

In a post on X, Johnson said he would also not seek a change in the rules that would make it harder to remove a speaker for capricious reasons on the whims of a single House member.

"Since the beginning of the 118th Congress, the House rule allowing a Motion to Vacate from a single member has harmed this office and our House majority," Johnson wrote. "Recently, many members have encouraged me to endorse a new rule to raise this threshold. While I understand the importance of that idea, any rule change requires a majority of the full House, which we do not have. We will continue to govern under the existing rules.”

JOHNSON REBUFFS RULE CHANGE THAT COULD SAVE HIS HOUSE SPEAKERSHIP

MTG: 'JOHNSON HAS BECAME THE DEMOCRAT SPEAKER': Johnson's chief antagonist in his party, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), isn't buying Johnson's insistence that he won't change the rules to keep his job, accusing him of secretly working behind the scenes with Democrats to save his speakership. 

"He owes our entire conference a meeting explaining his plans to change the rules WITH DEMOCRAT HELP on Motion to Vacate," Greene posted on X. "I filed a Motion to Vacate because Johnson has became the Democrat Speaker of the House. And with his actions, he's proving to everyone I was right."

HOUSE REPUBLICANS FACING CALLS TO RESIGN FROM POWERFUL POSITIONS AFTER STONEWALLING FOREIGN AID PACKAGE

THE RUNDOWN: 

Washington Examiner: Israel fires retaliatory missiles at Iran

Washington Examiner: Iran not planning for an 'immediate response' after Israel strike

Washington Examiner: Iranian attack on Israel sparks US concern about wider, regional conflict

Washington Examiner: Brian Mast pushes US to get aid to Israel within 30 days

Washington Examiner: 'Alarm bells': Biden's mixed Iran response has NATO allies 'scratching their heads'

Washington Examiner: House GOP blasts 'joke' loan to Ukraine in latest blow to Johnson's foreign aid plan

Washington Examiner: House Republicans turn on one another as they debate throwing Johnson over the ledge

Washington Examiner: House Republicans facing calls to resign from powerful positions after stonewalling foreign aid package

Washington Examiner: Johnson rebuffs rule change that could save his House speakership

Washington Examiner: Revamped TikTok 'ban' rolled into foreign aid bill improves its chances of passing

Washington Examiner: Senate warms to forced sale of TikTok following House tweak

Washington Examiner: Space lasers, conscription, and Neville Chamberlain: Foreign aid bill amendments lead to competitive trolling from representatives

Washington Examiner: CIA chief: Ukraine could 'lose' Russia war in 2024 without US aid

Washington Examiner: Prosecutors allege Polish citizen spied for Russia in possible plot to kill Zelensky

Washington Examiner: Military whistleblower accuses US leaders of suppressing Niger relationship downfall

Washington Examiner: 'Mega drills': US and Philippines test missile deployments to counter China

Washington Examiner: Republicans press Mayorkas in tense faceoff one day after Senate dismissed impeachment articles

Washington Examiner: Pelosi to release memoir that details Jan. 6 and assault on husband

Washington Examiner: Opinion: China will likely invade Taiwan even if Ukraine wins

Washington Examiner: Opinion: The new way of war: How US enemies foster American anger, disunity, and self-doubt

AP: Iran fires air defense batteries at Isfahan air base and nuclear site after drones spotted

Reuters: Pentagon Chief Austin Discusses Iran, Gaza Aid With Israel’s Gallant

AP: Congress moving swiftly on bipartisan action to punish Iran after revenge attack on Israel

New York Times: C.I.A. Leader Blames Hamas For Stalled Peace Negotiations

Washington Post: Russia ramps up weapons production, using mass quantity to outgun Ukraine

Bloomberg: Ukraine's Allies See Bleak Times Without More Air Defense 

Inside Defense: OSD Still Wants Congress to Repeal Law Requiring Unfunded Priorities Lists, Despite $30 Billion Military Request

Reuters: China Foreign Ministry Welcomes Blinken’s Visit To China As Tensions Simmer

Defense News: AUKUS Allies Developing Undersea Capabilities They Can Field This Year

Washington Times: Pentagon Speeding Up Work On First New Nuclear Warhead In 40 Years

Reuters: Northrop Grumman Working with Musk’s SpaceX on US Spy Satellite System

C4IRSNET: How the Space Force is Making Its Systems More Resilient

Breaking Defense: 'The Bad Day': DISA's Forthcoming Strategy Prepares for Wartime Comms

Air Force Times: VA May Fast-Track Disability Benefits for Air Force Missile Community

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Sticker Shock Drags Out USAF's E-7 Negotiations with Boeing

SpaceNews: Suppliers Struggle as Military Embraces Small Satellites

Breaking Defense: Navy Jet Trainer Fleet Operations Remain Paused After Engine Mishap

Breaking Defense: Multi-Ship Amphib Buy Could Net $900M In Savings, Say Navy, Marine Corps Officials

Air & Space Forces Magazine: B-52 Bombers Make Rare Landing at Civilian Airport

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Why a Civilian Defense Employee Died After a C-17 Test Flight Last Year

Air & Space Forces Magazine: New Bill Looks to Ease Military Child Care Shortage

Military.com: Marine Uniforms Will Hit Shelves Again After Nearly 2-Year Shortage, Corps Says

THE CALENDAR: 

FRIDAY | APRIL 19 

9:30 a.m. 215 Dirksen — U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission hearing: “The National Security Implications of the Economic Relationship between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China" https://www.uscc.gov

10 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: "Modernizing Army Software Acquisition," with Margaret Boatner, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for strategy and acquisition reform, and Brig. Gen. Ed Barker, program executive officer for intelligence, electronic warfare, and sensors https://www.csis.org/events/modernizing-army-software-acquisition

11 a.m. North Lacrosse, Wisconsin — House Veterans’ Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee field hearing: “Examining Transitioning Servicemembers Experience" http://veterans.house.gov

2:30 p.m. 1030 15th St. NW — Atlantic Council discussion: “Building a Stronger Relationship with the U.S.,” with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' al Sudani https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/iraq-prime-minister

TUESDAY | APRIL 23

2:30 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies "Smart Women, Smart Power" virtual conversation with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti and Kathleen McInnis, director, Smart Women, Smart Power Initiative https://www.csis.org/events/navigating-seas-admiral-lisa-franchetti

WEDNESDAY | APRIL 24

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

THURSDAY | APRIL 25

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

MONDAY | APRIL 29

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/

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QUOTE OF THE DAY
"And here's the political reality: If you think the fall of Afghanistan was bad, the fall of a European capital like Kyiv to Russian troops will be unimaginably worse. And if stalled American assistance makes that outcome possible, there's no question where the blame will land."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), speaking on the Senate floor on Thursday
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