Lawmakers Take Wait-and-See Approach on Florence Relief Funding

Lawmakers aren’t rushing yet to pass a Hurricane Florence disaster spending bill before the House recesses in October. Florence’s landfall today, in the peak of hurricane season, comes as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s war chest is about seven times higher than it was in 2017. That gives lawmakers more runway before needing to rush out any FEMA supplemental funding bills, which totaled almost $50 billion last year.

Democrats Eye More Gains In Well-Educated Republican Districts

Democrats looking for persuadable voters as they try to flip Republican House seats may find opportunities in districts where the adults have high levels of formal education, including many suburban areas where Republican strength has deteriorated in the last two years.

Can Pentagon Bridge Artificial Intelligence’s ‘Valley of Death’?

With a $2 billion investment in artificial intelligence research and development from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon signaled its commitment to outspend the U.S.’s international rivals in an effort to maintain its technological advantage.

Senators Moving to Expedite Vote to Create DHS Cyber Agency

Senators are trying to expedite unanimous passage of legislation that would authorize a new Department of Homeland Security agency to combat cyber threats. “We’re going to try to get that hotlined,” Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told Bloomberg Government.

North Korea’s missile-test pause has stopped Kim Jong Un from advancing to the last stages of ICBM development, Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says at a breakfast in Washington.

  • “Our assessment” is that North Korea has not yet closed the “last two pieces” of necessary ICBM technology, Selva says
  • Pause “has had an impact” of delaying final technical achievement needed, but “we don’t know what impact” pause has had on Kim’s “decision calculus” or “logic” as to whether to fire an even incomplete missile: Selva
    • “We have to assume he might shoot one” even with incomplete technologies, Selva says
  • “We have not seen a demonstration of a reliable reentry vehicle and we’ve not seen a demonstration of a reliable warning, firing and fusing system” necessary for a viable weapon: Selva
  • U.S. remains ready to intercept any ICBM missile, he says
  • If an ICBM was fired at the U.S., “we might actually make the choice not to shoot”; “based on what we know about the system and its trajectory,” U.S. may realize it’s not going to hit anything
  • Earlier, Jan. 30: N.Korea Hasn’t Yet Demonstrated Reliable ICBM: No.2 DOD Official
    (Updates with additional Selva comments, starting with first bullet)

F-35 Jets for Turkey Held Back in Compromise Pentagon Bill

Congress is taking the unusual step of trying to block the transfer of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Turkey, even though the country is a NATO ally and a partner in building the jet. Congress’ most recent move comes as part of the 2019 Pentagon spending bill that both chambers are expected to consider later this month. Transfers of the F-35 would be held back under a compromise struck on the spending bill for the next fiscal year, according to Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas).

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