Today's D Brief: Gun-control 'breakthrough' on the Hill; #D1TechSummit, day one; More river crossings in E. Ukraine; Extremists in a U-Haul; And a bit more.
After a weekend of nationwide protests demanding U.S. lawmakers pass new gun-control legislation, senators announced Sunday that they’ve reached a deal to pass new, incremental changes that the president said “reflects important steps in the right direction,” but “does not do everything that I think is needed.”
What the bill promises to do: Provide “major funding to help states pass and implement crisis intervention orders (red flag laws) that will allow law enforcement to temporarily take dangerous weapons away from people who pose a danger to others or themselves,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D.-Conn., who helped spearhead the bipartisan effort.
It would also set aside “billions in new funding for mental health and school safety, including money for the national build out of community mental health clinics,” he said. And it aims to make sure that “no domestic abuser—a spouse OR a serious dating partner—can buy a gun if they are convicted of abuse against their partner,” Murphy tweeted Sunday.
It doesn’t raise any buying ages to 21, but it does demand an “enhanced background check” for anyone purchasing a weapon under the age of 21, and it calls for a “short pause” in buying while going through that background investigation—referred to as an “enhanced review” that consults “state databases and local law enforcement.”
The new bill doesn’t meet all of protesters’ or Democratic lawmakers’ demands, of course. “But it’s real, meaningful progress,” Murphy said. “And it breaks a 30 year log jam, demonstrating that Democrats and Republicans can work together in a way that truly saves lives.”
Notably, the current legislation has the support of 10 Republican senators, all of whom signed a letter endorsing the bill Sunday—along with nine Democrats and one Independent. That could give it just enough support to pass the upper chamber. Those signatories include:
- Roy Blunt (R-Mo.);
- Richard Burr (R-N.C.);
- Bill Cassidy (R-La.);
- Susan Collins (R-Maine);
- John Cornyn (R-Texas);
- Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.);
- Rob Portman (R-Ohio);
- Mitt Romney (R-Utah);
- Thom Tillis (R-N.C.);
- Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)
- Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.);
- Cory Booker (D- N.J.);
- Chris Coons (D-Del.);
- Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.);
- Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.);
- Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.);
- Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.);
- Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.);
- And Angus King (I-Maine).
- “Gun Deal Is Less Than Democrats Wanted, but More Than They Expected,” via the New York Times, reporting Sunday;
- and “Mass Shootings, Weekend Violence Prompt U.S. Cities to Step Up Safety Measures,” via the Wall Street Journal, reporting Monday.
From Defense One
As More Aviation Accidents Pile Up, Key Safety Recommendations Remain Undone // Tara Copp: Pentagon officials say they’re still working on the December 2020 suggestions of a congressional commission.
In Asia, Defense Ministers Issue New Warnings to China // Jacqueline Feldscher: “Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow,” Japan’s prime minister said at this year’s feistier-than-usual Shangri-La Dialogue.
Defense One Radio, Ep. 103: Three perspectives on Ukraine's future // Ben Watson: We hear from three people whose lives have become bound up with Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Defense Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Defense Business Brief: Major weapon projects face delays; Trump Air Force One paint job ditched; Hints about next-gen fighter builder; and more.
Why Biden Just Declared Heat Pumps and Solar Panels Essential to National Defense // Daniel Cohan, The Conversation: An environmental engineering professor assesses their place in fighting the climate crisis.
How Much Does Bad Software Cost DOD? Lawmakers Want to Know // Lauren C. Williams: The House Armed Services Committee's version of the defense authorization act is getting a provision asking the Pentagon to account for wasted money and lost productivity caused by poorly performing software.
Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. And check out other Defense One newsletters here. On this day in 1997, Army veteran and white supremacist Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death for carrying out the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, killing 168 people and wounding nearly 700 others.
It’s Day 1 of Defense One’s Tech Summit, so take a sec to register before it begins at 1 p.m. with a keynote interview with Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks. Today also includes a panel about lessons learned from Ukraine about the future of open source intelligence, moderated by one of your D Brief-ers.
Find the full agenda here; and we look forward to you joining us for at least a few of our five days of discussions!
Ukraine latest: There might be a lot more river crossing attempts coming up soon, the British military warns in its latest assessment of Russia’s Ukraine invasion on its 110th day. That’s because “The key, 90km long central sector of Russia’s frontline in the Donbas lies to the west of the Siverskyy Donets River,” the Brits report. “To achieve success in the current operational phase of its Donbas offensive, Russia is either going to have to complete ambitious flanking actions, or conduct assault river crossings.” And that would all seem to suggest that, “Over the coming months, river crossing operations are likely to be amongst the most important determining factors in the course of the war.”
Rewind: Russia’s military suffered several failed attempted crossings back in May, as several outlets covered shortly after imagery of the devastation surfaced on social media. It’s unclear, however, if Ukraine has the weapons and manpower to halt what might lie ahead, if the British military is correct.
But Russia, too, continues to struggle with manpower issues, according to the Institute for the Study of War, writing Sunday evening off information from British intelligence. But that hasn’t kept Russian forces from blowing up bridges linking Severodonetsk to Lysychansk across that fateful Siverskyy Donets River. These bridges were blown “in a likely attempt to cut Ukrainian ground lines of communication that run from Bakhmut to Lysychansk and Severodonetsk,” ISW writes.
Meanwhile, China just leapfrogged Germany to become Russia’s top energy importer since the invasion began in late February, the Associated Press reports from Berlin, citing new data from the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
The largest importers included: China (with €12.6 billion); Germany (€12.1 billion); Italy (€7.8 billion); the Netherlands (€7.8 billion); Turkey (€6.7 billion); Poland (€4.4 billion); France (€4.3 billion); and then India (€3.4 billion).
The biggest reductions in Russian energy came from Poland—which, along with the U.S., “made the largest dents in Russia’s revenue,” the report’s authors write. After those two, Turkey, Spain, Italy, and Japan most sharply cut their Russian energy imports since the invasion began. But, “In relative terms, the most decisive countries in cutting Russian energy imports were the United States (-100%), Sweden (-99%), Lithuania (-77%), Egypt, Spain, Finland, Poland, Estonia, and Japan.” Read the full report (PDF), here.
- “With Billions Going to Ukraine, Officials Warn of Potential for Fraud, Waste,” the Wall Street Journal reported Monday;
- “Russia seeks to militarize schoolchildren and censor textbooks amid war,” the Washington Post reported Saturday from Latvia; compare with a similar New York Times report, painting with a much broader brush back in mid-December, entitled, “How the Kremlin Is Militarizing Russian Society”;
- And don’t miss how action film star John Cena helped a teenager who had to flee with his family from Mariupol; find that story in one tweet, here.
Monkeypox has come to the U.S. military, with an American service member diagnosed with the West African variant in Stuttgart, Germany, Stars and Stripes reported late last week. The service member “was seen and treated at the Stuttgart Army Health clinic,” the clinic posted on its Facebook page Friday.
The patient is now in isolation at an on-base residence, where a spokesman for U.S. European command said “the risk to the public is very low,” Stripes’ Jennifer Svan writes.
This weekend in Idaho, more than two-dozen out-of-town, far-right extremists crammed into one vehicle with plans to riot. They were with the white supremacist group, Patriot Front; and they “dressed like a small army” as they tried to carry out a seven-page tactical plan at a Pride event in the city of Coeur d’Alene, according to the New York Times.
Police arrested 31 members packed inside a U-Haul van, which was tipped off to cops by a concerned citizen who spotted elements of the “small” army hopping in at an intersection. Authorities confiscated shields and shin guards, as well as at least one smoke grenade.
They had come from all across the country, including Texas, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, and Virginia, according to police. Each now faces misdemeanor charges of “conspiracy to riot.” More at the Times, here; or at Reuters, here.
And lastly: Non-deployed U.S. Navy aviation units are observing a “safety pause” today, after at least three crashes in less than two weeks. Deployed forces will observe the pause “at the earliest possible opportunity,” the Navy announced Saturday.
The break should be used to “review risk-management practices and conduct training on threat and error-management processes,” according to the statement from Naval Air Forces. Tiny bit more to that one, here.