Overnight Defense: Republican blocks disaster aid package with money to rebuild military bases | Trump revives riff on steam catapults | Contradicts ally, aide on North Korea missile tests | Media Hard

Overnight Defense: Republican blocks disaster aid package with money to rebuild military bases | Trump revives riff on steam catapults | Contradicts ally, aide on North Korea missile tests

Donald Trump

Overnight Defense: Republican blocks disaster aid package with money to rebuild military bases | Trump revives riff on steam catapults | Contradicts ally, aide on North Korea missile tests

Happy Tuesday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I’m Rebecca Kheel, and here’s your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

THE TOPLINE: Welcome back from Memorial Day weekend to a D.C. where lawmakers are at home on recess.

Well, most lawmakers.

A few House members were in town for the “pro forma” session, including Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Republicans attempt to amend retirement savings bill to include anti-BDS language House votes to boost retirement savings MORE (R-Ky.), who became the second Republican to block passage of a disaster aid bill.

Massie objected to an attempt by Democrats to clear the $ 19.1 billion disaster aid package by unanimous consent.

His objection followed Friday’s from Rep. Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyOn The Money: Conservative blocks disaster relief bill | Trade high on agenda as Trump heads to Japan | Boeing reportedly faces SEC probe over 737 Max | Study finds CEO pay rising twice as fast as worker pay The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Conservative blocks House passage of disaster relief bill MORE (R-Texas).

Defense connection: The bill includes billions to rebuild storm-battered military bases that defense officials have been desperately asking for.

Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska; and Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina have all been ravaged by natural disaster recently.

The bill would provide $ 1.67 billion for the Air Force and $ 981 million for the Navy and Marine Corps.

Even as those bases await funding to rebuild, word came Tuesday of damage to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio from severe storms, including tornados.

Miliary.com reported that about 150 homes in an off-base, privatized housing area were damaged, on top of several vehicles. The main facilities on the base were not severely impacted, according to the news site.

To-do list: Because the House has been unable to pass the disaster aid bill by unanimous consent, it’s on Congress to-do list when lawmakers return to town next week.

The Hill’s Jordain Carney took a look Tuesday at all the items piling up on Congress’ list.

The list also includes the National Defense Authorization Act and other defense-related items such as a budget deal. Take a look at the full list here.

TRUMP REVIVES CATAPULT CRITICISM: When President TrumpDonald John TrumpCitizenship and Immigration Services union blasts Trump’s pick to head agency Texas secretary of state resigns after botched voter purge Trump hits Biden for 1994 crime bill support MORE first criticized new aircraft carriers for forgoing “goddamned” steam catapults, it was seen as an oddity.

Now, it’s become almost a regular refrain when he talks about carriers.

And Trump was it again in an overnight visit to sailors aboard the USS Wasp amphibious assault ship in Japan.

“You know, they were saying — one of the folks said, ‘No, the electric works faster. But, sir, we can only get the plane there every couple of minutes,’ ” Trump said aboard the USS Wasp, according to a White House transcript, adding: “So, really, what they did was wrong.”

“I think I’m going to put an order,” the president continued. “When we build a new aircraft carrier, we’re going to use steam. I’m going to just put out an order: We’re going to use steam. We don’t need — we don’t need that extra speed.”

Background: Trump doesn’t like what’s known as the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS). The system’s development was plagued with issues, but on the whole, it’s expected to save the Navy money compared with steam, which is harder to maintain and can damage aircraft.

He first criticized EMALS in a 2017 Time magazine interview, telling the publication he wanted to return to “goddamned steam.”

“It sounded bad to me. Digital. They have digital. What is digital? And it’s very complicated, you have to be Albert Einstein to figure it out. And I said—and now they want to buy more aircraft carriers. I said, ‘What system are you going to be—‘ ‘Sir, we’re staying with digital.’ I said, ‘No you’re not. You going to goddamned steam, the digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it’s no good.’”

Overseas trip: Trump’s visit to sailors on the Wasp wrapped up his largely ceremonial trip to Japan to meet the new emperor.

Despite the pomp and circumstance, Trump did make headlines on pressing issues for the region.

Namely, he contradicted his national security adviser and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the issue of North Korea’s recent missile tests.

Trump said during a joint press conference that he was not “personally” bothered by Pyongyang’s short-range missile tests, which Abe recently called “extremely regrettable” and a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

National security adviser John BoltonJohn Robert BoltonChina rips security meeting between US, Taiwan North Korea labels Bolton a ‘war monger’ and ‘defective human product’ Trump agrees with Kim, rips Biden at Japan presser MORE had also agreed with Abe that the launches violated missile-test bans.

“My people think it could have been a violation, as you know,” Trump said at a press conference. “I view it differently. I view it as a man — perhaps he wants to get attention, and perhaps not. Who knows? It doesn’t matter.”

The Hill’s Brett Samuels and Jordan Fabian have a rundown of five takeaways from Trump’s trip. Catch up on that here.

More to come: Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanGOP rep says intel on Iran is ‘credible’ Trump defense pick expected to face tense confirmation Iran slams US troop deployment: ‘Extremely dangerous’ for Middle East peace MORE is traveling to Asia this week, so expect to be asked questions on things Trump said during his trip.

Shanahan left Tuesday for a trip that includes stops in Hawaii, Jakarta, Singapore, Seoul and Tokyo.

SHANAHAN CONFIRMATION FIGHT: Speaking of Shanahan, over the weekend, your Overnight Defense correspondent took a look at the fight ahead over Shanahan’s confirmation to be Defense secretary full-time.

Shanahan is expected to be confirmed, that doesn’t mean it won’t get messy. In particular, he’s expected to face tough questions from Democrats about how much he is willing to push back on the president.

Catch up on that story here.


Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley will participate in a discussion on Russian and Chinese nuclear weapons at 8:45 a.m. at the Hudson Institute. https://bit.ly/2VRPD29

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford will speak at 10:30 a.m. at the Brookings Institution. https://brook.gs/2ErGw2x


— The Hill: Service members wear ‘Make Aircrew Great Again’ patches in Japan

— The Hill: State Department calls Russian, Syrian airstrikes a ‘reckless escalation’

— The Hill: Opinion: To avoid war with Iran, US needs to deal — starting with a concession

— The Hill: Opinion: House Democrats press for acquisition reform but hamper innovative programs

— Associated Press: Iran’s Guard talks tough, says it has no fear of war with US

— Reuters: Poland plans to buy 32 F-35A fighters: minister 

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rkheel@thehill.com (Rebecca Kheel)

More at https://thehill.com/policy/defense/overnights/445842-overnight-defense-republican-blocks-disaster-aid-package-with-money

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