With Connor O’Brien and Lara Seligman
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– Iran will “never have a nuclear weapon under my watch”, says President Joe Biden.
– Some Democrats repel US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, while the Iraqi government is crying foul.
– Influential senator makes noise about Navy shipbuilding plan, and uses a Pentagon candidate as a bargaining chip.
HAPPY TUESDAY AND WELCOME TO MORNING DEFENSE. We are replacing our colleague Bryan Bender this week and are always looking for advice, arguments and comments. Write to us at [email protected] and follow on Twitter @paulmcleary, @morningdefense and @politicopro.
AERIAL STRIKE FALLS: US forces at a military base in eastern Syria suffered rocket fire Monday, a day after President Joe Biden ordered retaliatory airstrikes against Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, according to a spokesperson for the mission. Service members launched counter-battery artillery fire in self-defense, and initial reports indicate that there were no injuries.
But Biden’s weekend strikes caused waves in Washington as well, disgruntled Democrats frustrated by his decision to bypass Congress – a repeat of similar strikes launched in February, POLITICO’s Andrew Desiderio and Lara Seligman write for the pros.
In both operations, the president invoked his authority under Article II of the Constitution, which allows him to take action to protect the US military in self-defense.
“But some members of Biden’s party are sounding the alarm bells about possible abuses of this power, which the presidents of both parties have used to bypass Congress and legally justify various military operations. The airstrikes come as lawmakers are already pushing to repeal two-decade-old permits for the use of military force in Iraq, an effort Biden supports.
Iraq pushes back: The Iraqi government was not happy either. Baghdad issued a statement on Monday describing the strikes as a “flagrant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and national security”. The Iraqi government has been unable to stop attacks by Iranian-backed militias against the 2,500 US troops still in the country who form the local forces, although many groups are withdrawing government paychecks. of Baghdad, who asked for all possible help. the ongoing struggle against the radicals of ISIS.
But the Iraqi government continues to find itself in a difficult – albeit familiar – situation, caught between Washington, which can provide air power, intelligence assistance and training, and its neighbor Iran, which wields considerable power over it. local politics with the country’s Shiite majority.
Biden and nuclear weapons: Continued attempts by Iranian-backed groups in Iraq and Syria to strike US targets will likely have a limited effect on talks between Washington and Tehran over Iran’s nuclear program, but Biden also addressed this issue on Monday.
Iran “will never have a nuclear weapon under my watch,” Biden said in an Oval Office meeting with outgoing President of Israel Reuven Rivlin, claiming a “rock-solid” relationship between states -United and Israel.
WAITING: Republican Senator Roger Wicker is Biden’s choice to lead the Pentagon’s Office of Cost and Program Assessment Susanna Blume to pressure the Pentagon to commit to buying more amphibious ships, your Morning D correspondent and Connor O’Brien’s report for the Pros.
Wicker wants the Pentagon to agree to follow through on a congressional-backed effort to purchase four amphibious ships in one “bulk purchase,” which supporters say would be cheaper than acquiring the ships individually. While this move was blessed in the latest defense policy bill, ships have been excluded from the Biden administration’s budget.
Wicker, including the state of Mississippi is home to Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, which builds Navy destroyers and amphibious ships, is an advocate for increasing the size of the Navy to at least 355 ships and has cut Biden’s defense budget for what it calls for not resourcing the army appropriately. He and other proponents of the bulk buy underlined the estimated savings, as well as the certainty the deal would bring to the shipbuilding industry.
Not the last word: Wicker’s action alone is not enough to block Blume’s confirmation if Democrats are to force the issue through the Senate. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could still force a procedural vote to advance his nomination which only requires a majority of senators to agree to advance his nomination.
I spy: One thing the Biden Navy budget does is keep spending levels on new submarines, calling for two per year going forward. Submarines will play a major role in the confrontation with China and Russia in the years to come, and the new Columbia-class ships slated to enter service in the 2030s will be a step in the nuclear triad.
With that in mind, the Navy has been promoting the whereabouts of its submarine fleet in unusual recent times, and on Monday published rare photos of an Ohio-class submarine passing the Rock of Gibraltar en route to the Mediterranean.
The photo came after reports started to emerge that Russia could have tested a Kinzhal hypersonic missile launched by air into the Mediterranean recently.
DEMS FUNDING LEVELS: House Democrats on Monday released their opening lines for a dozen government funding bills, outlining their proposal to split $ 1.5 trillion in discretionary spending for the next fiscal year, POLITICO’s Caitlin Emma reports for the pros.
On the defense side, the appropriators allocate $ 705.9 billion for their annual defense bill. Including the nearly $ 11 billion House Democrats are looking to spend on military construction programs, the Appropriations Committee is closely following the Pentagon turnover proposed by the Biden administration.
Today: The House Appropriations Committee is expected to release its defense spending bill for fiscal year 2022. The legislation will be annotated at the subcommittee level on Wednesday.
Democrats who love the defense budget: Elsewhere, a group of moderate “blue democrats” oppose the left wing of the party, which calls for cuts to the defense budget to finance national programs.
House Blue Dog Coalition leaders say they oppose calls to fund everything requested $ 753 billion from national defense budget for fiscal year 2022 – which included $ 715 billion for the Pentagon ”, Defense News Reports. June 24 group letter leaders of the House Armed Services Committee and House Appropriations Committee said, “We believe this is a sound and sensible fundraising request, and we oppose calls to allow or appropriate inferior funding. at this level “.
AUMF VOTES: The House votes today on two war powers bills that would repeal the 1991 Gulf War authorization and a broad Cold War military forces act of 1957 for the Middle East. Both bills were debated Monday and final votes were postponed until today.
– Cyber Command chief General Paul Nakasone speaks at the WEST 2021 virtual conference at 11 a.m.
– General Stephen Townsend, Commander of the US Africa Command, and Vice-Admiral Hervé Bléjean, Director of the General Staff of the European Union, participate in a panel on European and American military engagement in Africa hosted by Lara Seligman from POLITICO at 10:45 am during the 10th edition Washington EU Defense Forum.
Army General Gustave Perna, the highest military official responsible for coordinating the deployment of the American vaccine, retires on July 2, as Operation Warp Speed, the name of the US response to the coronavirus, changes gears. Robert johnson, who works at the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, will serve as the interim COO for the effort.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin thanked Perna for his service in a tweet Monday.
“I am very grateful for the exceptional service of General Perna at the @deptofdefense & nation after an estimated 38-year career in the @The American army. Through his tireless efforts in the fight against COVID, we are one step closer to returning to a normal way of life, ”Austin wrote.
– Coast Guard in talks to add vessels to heavy icebreaker program: National Defense
– House adopts his version of science bill to take on China: POLITICO Pro