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With Democrat majority in U.S. Congress, Trump’s plans for nuclear arsenal, space weapons, will meet opposition

Divided Congress to clash over Space Force, nuclear arsenal, The Hill, BY REBECCA KHEEL – 11/11/18

Democrats next year will control the gavels for the defense and foreign policy committees in the House for the first time since 2010.

The party has been itching to check President Trump on a host of issues, from his relationship with Saudi Arabia to the ballooning defense budget.

But to get legislation through Congress, House Democrats will need to work with the Senate, which is still in Republican hands. And the chairmen poised to lead the defense and foreign policy panels in the upper chamber are seen as staunch Trump allies.

Here are the top foreign policy and defense fights to watch in a divided Congress:

U.S.-Saudi relations

Lawmakers in both parties have been eyeing ways to punish Saudi Arabia over the killing of U.S.-based journalist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi.

House Democrats have said responses should include an end to U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition in neighboring Yemen’s civil war. Democratic lawmakers were already opposed to U.S. backing because of civilian casualties, but Khashoggi’s murder has given the issue new urgency……….

Space Force

The Trump administration has said it wants the establishment of a “Space Force” included in next year’s defense policy bill. That position has contributed to increasingly diverging opinions between House and Senate lawmakers……….

Defense budget

Smith [Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), who’s poised to be chairman of the House Armed Services Committee] has said this year’s defense budget of $716 billion is “too high,” and in a Thursday letter announcing his run for chairman he vowed to target “inefficiency and waste” at the Pentagon……….

Nuclear weapons

One of Smith’s longtime concerns has been the U.S. nuclear arsenal. He opposed the Obama administration’s modernization plans, arguing they weren’t affordable.

With the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review calling for new capabilities, Smith has stepped up his criticism, vowing to scrutinize the nuclear budget to look for savings in the overall defense budget.

In his Thursday letter, Smith said Democrats must “take substantial steps to reduce America’s overreliance on nuclear weapons.”

Adding to Democrats’ nuclear anxiety is Trump’s intention to withdraw from a Cold War-era arms accord with Russia known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Smith and Engel wrote a letter to the administration last month warning they “will neither support, nor enable, a precipitous course of action that increases the risk of an unconstrained nuclear arms race.”

Congress is limited in its power to prevent Trump from withdrawing from the treaty, but it could block funding for any new missiles that would be out of compliance with the accord……… https://thehill.com/policy/defense/415935-divided-congress-to-clash-over-space-force-nuclear-arsenal

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November 12, 2018 - Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war

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