Shutdown averted?; Terror case in NJ; Saudis try to cool Iran tensions; Norway rejects Huawei; And a bit more.
Shutdown averted? Lawmakers have reportedly reached a tentative deal with the White House to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year. “The agreement covers nearly $1.4 trillion in discretionary government spending across a dozen bills,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Critical caveat: “Negotiators still need to agree on the language of legislation, which is expected to be released on Monday.”
Background: "Federal agencies have been operating on temporary funding since Oct. 1,” Reuters reports, “because Congress and the White House had been unable to agree on full-year appropriations for agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, which administers many of the Trump administration’s controversial immigration policies.”
If the current agreement’s language is unchanged, “Congress would approve roughly the same amount of funding it did last fiscal year for building a barrier [along the U.S.-Mexico border]—$1.38 billion—while leaving the president’s ability to redirect government funds untouched,” the Journal reports. Politico adds “The deal would also maintain Trump’s ability to divert federal cash for a Southern barrier, although a federal judge just blocked his move earlier this year to tap $3.6 billion in military funds.”
As far as the military is concerned, Politico reports, “The agreement allows Congress to move ahead on $22 billion more for defense and $27 billion more for non-defense budgets compared to fiscal 2019 — levels secured by a bipartisan budget accord struck this summer.”
Should negotiations remain on their current trajectory, "lawmakers will still face a tight schedule to pass each of the dozen annual spending bills before the last stopgap measure expires after Dec. 20," the Journal writes. That's because "House members said they aim to bring packages of the bills to the floor on Tuesday, giving the Senate just days to decide on the legislation before the end of next week."
Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, there’s “zero chance” President Trump will be removed from office after an impeachment trial in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky insisted last night in an interview with Fox News.
“The case is so darn weak coming over from the House. We all know how it’s going to end,” McConnell told Sean Hannity. "We have no choice but to take it up. But we'll be working through this process hopefully in a fairly short period of time, in total coordination with the White House counsel's office and the people who are representing the president, in the way all of the Senate."
The House Judiciary Committee votes today on its two articles of impeachment, which are expected to be approved in the Democrat-controlled chamber. If approved, that will “send the matter to the full House for a vote expected next week,” AP reports. “That would send the impeachment effort to the Senate for a 2020 trial.” More here.
Is Trump worried? He’d say no. However, POTUS45 tweeted more times by 2 p.m. on Thursday than any day going back to when he announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015, the Washington Post’s Philip Bump reported.
For the record: “Over the past seven days, he has averaged about 60 tweets a day, which is at least 10 tweets more than any prior seven-day period in the past four years.” Read on, here.
From Defense One
House Defense Bill Would Mandate Carbon Capture Program for the Military // Patrick Tucker: A technology that many hope will prevent the worst effects of climate change could also produce fuel or other defense products.
Pentagon Test-Fires 2nd INF-Banned Missile // Marcus Weisgerber: The Air Force ran Thursday's launch from a static pad, which followed the Navy's August test from a mobile launcher.
Global Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: WH eyes arms programs; NDAA notes; Which candidate is tops in defense industry funding?; and more…
Democrats Retreat on Nuclear Policy // Tom Z. Collina: The 2020 authorization bill fails to check Trump’s worst impulses.
Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. If you’re not already subscribed, you can do that here. On this day in 1941, Hungary declared war on the United States; Bulgaria declared war on the UK and the U.S.; the UK, New Zealand and South Africa declared war on Bulgaria; and Honduras declared war on Germany and Italy.
New Jersey’s attorney general has opened a domestic terrorism investigation into Tuesday’s attack on a kosher deli that left six people dead, including a police officer, three civilians and the two attackers, Politico reported Thursday. The AG “confirmed that investigators found evidence showing both of the shooters… had been followers of the Black Hebrew Israelites, a group known to expose hate for Jews and white people.”
Both attackers "appear to have made anti-Semitic posts on the internet." Officials insist so far there seems to be "no indication either of the attackers — a man and a woman — have any direct links to an organized group." A bit more, here.
Remember the uproar over the U.S. “shaking down” South Korea for more money to host U.S. forces? South Koreans do. And today in front of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, “left-leaning protesters from several youth groups cheered as two students smashed up blocks of tofu and acorn jelly adorned with paper portraits of [U.S. Ambassador Harry] Harris,” Reuters reports from the South Korean capital.
“Harris out! We are not a U.S. colony! We are not an ATM machine!” they chanted while surrounded by police.
If you’re just now catching up to this plot, Reuters reminds us “Trump has demanded Seoul pay as much as $4 billion more a year, according to South Korean officials… South Korea currently contributes about $900 million to the upkeep of U.S. troops in the country.”
Expect to hear more next week when a new round of talks are scheduled to begin again in Seoul. More here.
Saudi Arabia is reportedly serious about trying to de-escalate tensions with Iran amid uncertainty over “how much backing it has from the U.S. and other allies,” the Wall Street Journal writes. And Riyadh seems to be joined by Tehran as both now have an intense interest in protecting their own economy — the Saudis after the Sept. 14 refinery attacks blamed on Iran; and the Iranians after “explosions in October on an Iranian tanker that Tehran blamed on an unnamed foreign government.”
For Iran's part, officials there have "floated a peace plan to the Saudis that includes a mutual pledge of nonaggression and cooperation," the Journal writes. And on the other side of the table, "The Saudi outreach also comes at a pivotal time for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is trying to remake the kingdom’s economy… The prospect of a wider conflict with Iran jeopardizes Saudi oil exports and also risks scaring away overseas investors the kingdom needs for fresh capital, cutting-edge technology and management know-how."
About the war in Yemen? The Saudis are trying to convince Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to share power with the Houthis in Sana’a; but that’s not going so well just yet.
And that’s not all: “Riyadh is also trying to find a way to end a two-year deadlock with Qatar,” which is still ongoing. More behind the paywall, here.
Finally this week: Norway rejects China’s Huawei. The company’s largest telecom will build its 5G network with Sweden’s Ericsson. That’s a victory for U.S. officials, who have been pressing NATO allies to avoid the state-connected Huawei. It can’t have been an easy choice for Oslo, which re-established diplomatic relations with China “after being frozen for six years over the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to a Chinese dissident,” Reuters writes.
NEXT STORY: Pentagon Test-Fires 2nd INF-Banned Missile