Today's D Brief: Aid bill fails; NDAA moves ahead; US grounds Ospreys; More F-35 delays?; And a bit more.
As forecast on Tuesday, Republicans in the Senate shot down a bill to advance Israel and Ukraine aid on Capitol Hill Wednesday. GOP lawmakers are insisting on changes to asylum requirements for immigrants looking to enter the U.S. along its border with Mexico. Republicans are demanding “a massive expansion of immigration detention for asylum seekers, the ability to send asylum seekers to other countries the U.S. deems are safe and limits on an immigration status known as humanitarian parole,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Other GOP senators want any future aid to Ukraine to be “conditioned on meeting metrics for reducing illegal crossings, with money released at a rate of $5 billion a month provided that the number of illegal crossings was reduced by about 20,000 from the prior month’s levels,” the Journal adds.
Border security has been “one of the most fraught issues in American politics” for at least 50 years, as the Associated Press noted in its Senate coverage Wednesday. Pew Research Center tracks the issue back even further, here.
Compromise “means not everyone gets what they want,” President Joe Biden said in May, after forging a deal with then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy over the country’s debt limit. “That’s the responsibility of governing,” Biden said.
Throwback Thursday: CNN reviewed six memorable political compromises from U.S. history back in 2013, and it could be worth lawmakers’ time to revisit those this week. (Wikipedia has a few more in its linked collection here.)
“Republicans think they get everything they want, without any bipartisan compromise. That’s not the answer,” President Biden told reporters Wednesday afternoon. However, he went further in voicing his frustrations, adding, “Extreme Republicans are playing chicken with our national security, holding Ukraine’s funding hostage to their extreme partisan border policies.”
Still, he conceded, “I am willing to make significant compromises on the border. And thus far, I’ve gotten no response” from Republican leaders, the president said.
Reminder: “Undocumented immigrants [are] far less likely to commit crimes in U.S. than citizens,” as illustrated by a 2020 study from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Additionally, “for every dollar the Texas state government spends on public services for undocumented immigrants,  research indicates, the state collects $1.21 in revenue,” according to a separate study from Rice University.
By the way: “Some Pentagon officials have pushed back against claims that military assistance to Ukraine is about to run out, pointing to near-weekly shipments of arms and ammunition worth more than $100 million each,” the New York Times reported Tuesday after Tom Cotton and other shouting Republicans derailed the Senate’s meeting on the future of Ukraine support. Those nameless Pentagon officials “added that they expected to make the remaining $4.8 billion in aid authority last through the winter,” according to the Times.
And the Pentagon announced another $175 million in military aid to Ukraine on Wednesday. The new package includes “additional air defense capabilities, artillery ammunition, anti-tank weapons,” and more, the Defense Department said in a statement.
Biden met virtually with G7 leaders Wednesday to discuss Ukraine and Israel. The presidents and prime ministers “reiterated their commitment to support Ukraine for as long as it takes,” and they vowed to work toward “a durable, lasting peace culminating in a Palestinian state part of a two-state solution” in the Middle East, according to the White House.
In case you were curious, Russia’s military invasion has cost Ukraine $400 billion in damages so far, according to the World Bank, the G7 leaders said in a joint statement Wednesday.
SecDef Austin hosted Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov at the Pentagon Wednesday as part of this week’s two-day Ukraine Defense Industrial Base Conference in Washington. In his brief public remarks, Umerov thanked the U.S. for its military aid packages.
New: Ukraine wants F-18 jets, THAAD missile-defense systems, C-17 and C-130 transport planes, as well as Apache and Blackhawk helicopters, according to Reuters reporting Wednesday.
Expert reax: “Seems highly unlikely to be approved” since it’d possibly burn through the White House’s desired $60 billion supplemental request, wrote Dmitri Alperovitch on Thursday.
Developing: The U.S. just established a new “interagency team” of officials from the State, Defense, and Commerce Departments whose goal is to more closely link Ukraine and America’s defense industries, the White House said Wednesday. Already, “The Department of Defense and industry partners provided Ukraine with technical data to start local production of some of the FrankenSAM projects that seek to enable Ukraine’s legacy air defense systems by integrating certain Western munitions,” officials said in a fact sheet.
- “Migrant children are a crisis for the U.S. Coast Guard,” the New York Times reported in a multimedia feature Wednesday.
Welcome to this Thursday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. Share your newsletter tips, reading recommendations, or feedback for the year ahead here. And if you’re not already subscribed, you can do that here. Dec. 7, of course, is a day that will live in infamy. But 31 years later, the crew of Apollo 17 snapped the photo known as The Blue Marble, one of the most-reproduced images in history.
New: House and Senate lawmakers just completed reconciliation talks to hammer out differences between the two chambers’ annual defense policy bills. “Through months of hard-fought and productive negotiations, we have crafted a bipartisan and bicameral conference report that strengthens our national security and supports our servicemembers,” the top Democrat and Republican leaders of the Armed Services Committees said in a joint statement Thursday morning.
The compromise bill includes a four-month extension of the FISA 702 surveillance powers that expire at the end of the month, as we explained in a podcast this September.
It also rejects divestment of F-22s, and authorizes the retirement of F-15s and A-10s. And it includes a requirement for the Pentagon to draft a plan for unused border wall materials (leftover from the prior administration) within 75 days of the bill’s passage.
Not included: The House GOP’s plan to stop the Pentagon’s abortion travel policy, as explained on page 2,528 of the nearly 3,100-page bill. However, “Republicans saw wins with some concessions that rein in Pentagon efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the ranks,” according to Politico. Read over the document for yourself (PDF) here.
Pentagon grounds all Ospreys, one week after deadly crash. The U.S. military has grounded its entire fleet of V-22 aircraft a week after eight airmen were killed in the crash of a U.S. Air Force CV-22 off Japan. “Preliminary investigation information indicates a potential materiel failure caused the mishap, but the underlying cause of the failure is unknown at this time. The stand down will provide time and space for a thorough investigation to determine causal factors and recommendations to ensure the Air Force CV-22 fleet returns to flight operations,” Air Force Special Operations Command said in a Dec. 6 press release. More, here.
Lawsuit could further delay F-35 deliveries. The tick-tock: Howmet Aerospace tried to raise the price it charges for various F-35 structural parts. Prime contractor Lockheed Martin refused to pay. Howmet stopped sending the parts. Lockheed filed a Nov. 30 lawsuit alleging breach of contract. Howmet responded with a Dec. 1 press release that asserted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had “dramatically increased” the price of titanium materials.
Lockheed’s suit says Howmet’s move “threatens to cause substantial delays in Lockheed Martin’s construction of F-35s, and therefore substantial delays in Lockheed Martin timely delivering such F-35s to the U.S. military for critical, urgent national security needs, as required by Lockheed Martin’s prime contract with the government.” D1’s Audrey Decker has more, here.
SpaceX’s Starlink clears Arctic tests that pave way for DOD contracts, Bloomberg reports. “The previously undisclosed testing found that StarLink to be a “reliable and high-performance communications system in the Arctic, including on-the-move applications,” said Brian Beal, an engineer with the Air Force Research Laboratory.
Such contracts would deepen mercurial SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s dealing with the Pentagon, which have become controversial.
China is watching US-allied exercises to find “soft targets,” the head of U.S. Army Forces Pacific said Wednesday. “They go relatively dormant during a key period of the exercise and then after it's over they'll go find soft targets. They'll find officials to broker a deal with and then they'll maybe look for some land around one of the key bases or locations where we train,” Gen. Charles Flynn said at the Irregular Warfare Forum in Virginia. “So I'm trying to describe to you that these are ground intercepts that happen all the time.” Find more of Flynn’s remarks, here.
Join us in Washington this afternoon when Defense One hosts an in-person event all about the “Future of Defense Acquisition.” Army Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Douglas Bush kicks things off just after 2 p.m. ET, followed by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Integration and Interoperability Dave Tremper at 3 p.m., and Office of Strategic Capital Director Jason Rathje just before 4 p.m.
Location: 600 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. Details and registration, here.