IT’S ALL THEIR FAULT: In dueling news conferences, the Democratic majority leader and Republican minority leader of the Senate each faulted the other for the failure to reach an agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act, legislation that has passed with bipartisan support for 60 years.

Republicans blocked a vote on the must-pass bill Monday.

The sticking point remains Republican complaints that important amendments are being blocked by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer. “The majority leader's been reluctant to enter into an agreement for a reasonable number of amendments related to the subject,” said Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “The only reason that we pushed the pause button on this bill ... is because of the absence of an agreement to go forward. That's still under discussion.”

‘ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF DYSFUNCTION’: At a separate news conference, Schumer railed against what he called “certain renegade members” who “seem to get whatever they want and are never reined in.”

“The number of amendments offered exceeded all of the amendments offered during the four years when McConnell was leader. So the idea that this wasn't fair — that this was not giving due course to Republicans' concerns, is absolutely wrong — absolutely wrong,” Schumer said.

Schumer noted that the NDAA passed the Armed Services Committee with broad bipartisan support, 23-3, and that Chairman Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and ranking Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma had collaborated on a manager’s package of some 50 amendments, 27 from Republicans. “It wasn't a Democratic agreement, it was a Reed-Inhofe agreement,” he said.

“Republicans blocking such an accommodating and commonsense path forward used to be unimaginable. It wouldn't have happened under any other Republican leader. But it's another example of dysfunction.”


‘WE WON'T SHUT DOWN’: With temporary authorization for government funding set to expire at midnight tomorrow and the Pentagon and other federal agencies preparing for possible Friday furloughs, McConnell expressed confidence that a government shutdown would be avoided by passage of another continuing resolution or CR.

“We won't shut down. Sen. [Richard] Shelby is engaged in discussions about — not only how long the CR should last, but certain conditions, sort of bright lines that we've had in the measures forever,” McConnell said. “I think we'll get there. And certainly nobody should be concerned about a government shutdown.”

“We'll also continue working with our Republican colleagues to do it, to move a CR quickly so we can keep the government operating and avoid a needless holiday shutdown,” said Schumer. “But let me be clear again, if a handful of Senate Republicans choose obstruction, there will be a Republican manufactured shutdown caused by Republican dysfunction.”

“Anybody here remember the good old days when you actually had an appropriation bill on the floor? Hasn't been one in the Senate for at least 10 years,” said Majority Whip Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois. “Now we're facing a CR just to keep the lights on in the federal government during the Christmas season.”


‘THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT DEFAULT’: Once spending authority is extended into February or March, the next looming crisis is the need to raise the debt ceiling in the next two weeks so the U.S. government can pay its obligations.

Let me assure everyone the government will not default, as it never has,” said McConnell confidently, even though Republicans are trying to force the Democrats to raise the debt ceiling without Republican votes. “The majority leader and I have been having discussions about the way forward.”

Schumer was more cautious. “Leader McConnell and I have been having very good negotiation, or I would say good negotiations. And don't want to oversell, and the bottom line is, we hope to come up with a bipartisan agreement that both parties support that doesn't risk us in the debt limit.”

“And when it comes to the debt ceiling ... that 80% or 90% of this debt ceiling is about debt incurred under the previous president,” Durbin said. “And Republicans refuse to even step up to vote for a debt ceiling extension on appropriations they voted for, for their president.”


Good Wednesday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense, written and compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre) and edited by Victor I. Nava. Email here with tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. Sign up or read current and back issues at If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter: @dailyondefense.


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HAPPENING TODAY: The House Foreign Affairs Committee is holding a closed briefing on "The Administration's Counterterrorism Strategy & Capability in Afghanistan,” at 3 p.m.

And at 7 p.m., the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection will markup its "Report Recommending that the House of Representatives Cite Jeffrey B. Clark for Criminal Contempt of Congress."

Clark is a former Justice Department lawyer who aligned with former President Donald Trump as he tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election. 390 Cannon. Livestream at

CAN PUTIN BE STOPPED? Following the first day of NATO’s foreign ministerial in Riga, Latvia, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the situation in and around Ukraine “fluid and unpredictable” and issued a pointed warning to Russia.

“There is no certainty about Russia’s intentions. We see a significant and unusual concentration of forces, which is unjustified and unexplained, and accompanied by heightened rhetoric and disinformation. And we know that Russia has used force before against Ukraine and other neighbors,” Stoltenberg said. “We stand united in our aim to deter Russia from any further aggressive actions.”

“Any future Russian aggression against Ukraine would come at a high price. And have serious political and economic consequences for Russia.”

THE PUTIN ‘PLAYBOOK’: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised he would have more to say today but told reporters yesterday during a press availability with his Latvian counterpart that what Russian President Vladimir Putin is doing is straight out of his standard playbook.

“Part of that playbook is to attempt to create and manufacture a so-called provocation as justification for something that Russia was planning to do all along. And so whether what's been reported fits into that playbook,” Blinken said. “We know that Russia often combines those efforts with internal efforts to destabilize a country. That's part of the playbook.”


PUTIN’S ‘RED LINES’: In comments to an online investment forum, Putin has a warning of his own to NATO, and he touted his new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile that was tested most recently on Monday.

Putin said that any basing of missiles that could target Moscow would be a threat that would trigger a strong response, according to the Associated Press. “The emergence of such threats represents a ‘red line’ for us,” Putin said. “I hope that it will not get to that, and common sense and responsibility for their own countries and the global community will eventually prevail.”


AUSTIN TO OKLAHOMA GUARD: NO SHOT, NO PAY: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has upped the ante in his dispute with Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt over vaccine mandates for military members.

Stitt insists that as governor, he controls the state National Guard and has the authority to ignore the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

Earlier this week, Austin refused Stitt’s request to rescind the requirement for Oklahoma Guardsman, and yesterday Austin issued a new memo specifying that “all members of the National Guard must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 ... in order to participate in drills, training, and other duty conducted under title 32, U.S. Code.”

The memo includes an order that any Guard member refusing the vaccine will not be entitled to pay.

“No Department of Defense funding may be allocated for payment of duties performed under title 32 for members of the National Guard who do not comply with Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccination requirements,” the memo says. “No credit or excused absence shall be afforded to members who do not participate in drills, training, or other duty due to failure to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”

“As I've said before, vaccination of the force will save lives and is essential to our readiness,” Austin wrote.

The episode is “far from over in our eyes,” an official in the governor’s office told the Washington Post.


REAGAN INSTITUTE SURVEY SHOWS LACK OF TRUST IN THE MILITARY: The Ronald Reagan Foundation and Institute is releasing its fourth National Defense Survey today, and its director Roger Zakheim is highlighting two key findings.

“There is now significant consensus that China is the nation that poses the greatest threat to the United States,” Zakheim says, and also that “Americans are also losing confidence in the institution primarily responsible for dealing with the threats we face around the world. Our latest survey shows that a minority of Americans — only 45% — report having a great deal of trust and confidence in the military.”

You can see more of the survey results here.

NUCLEAR NOM CONFIRMED: The Senate voted unanimously yesterday to confirm Corey Hinderstein as the deputy administrator for nuclear nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The vote came after Maine Independent Sen. Angus King gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor citing her 20 years of experience working in the area of nuclear nonproliferation, which King argued is critical in an era of evolving nuclear threats which may not be deterred by the traditional doctrine of mutual assured destruction.

“If you're not representing a country, and if you don't care about dying, then the idea of a nuclear response doesn't scare you, it doesn't deter you from taking that kind of action,” King said. “So keeping nuclear materials and nuclear technology out of the hands of terrorists is, to me, one of the most important functions that our government can perform.”

LaPLANTE NOMINATED TO BE DOD WEAPONS BUYER: President Joe Biden has nominated William LaPlante to be the Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, the White House announced yesterday.

LaPlante is currently president and chief executive officer of Draper Laboratory, and from 2014 to 2017, he served in the Obama administration as assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology, and logistics.

In that job, Laplante helped oversee the acquisition of the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet, the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus refueling tanker, and the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider stealth bomber.


The Rundown

Washington Examiner: Oklahoma governor’s bid for National Guard COVID-19 vaccine exemptions denied

Washington Examiner: Warren calls for congressional inquiry into botched Syrian strike from 2019

Washington Examiner: Blinken says Russia could incur 'serious consequences’ for aggression in Ukraine

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Biden must block UN recognition of the Taliban

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Britain's MI6 chief shifts focus to China

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Biden should extend a state visit invitation to Lithuania

AP: NATO debates the lessons of mission creep in Afghanistan

Defense One: US, S. Korea to Write New War Plan to Counter N. Korean Nukes, Missiles

Reuters: U.S. In Hypersonic Weapon 'Arms Race' With China -Air Force Secretary

Bloomberg: Biden’s Asia Czar Says Aukus Is ‘Defining Effort’ Against China

AP: Belarus president offers to host Russian nuclear weapons

USNI News: Russia’s Growing Secret Submarine Fleet Key To Moscow’s Undersea Future

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Commander Calls For More Aircraft Carriers In Pacific To Deter China

Reuters: Washington Caps Year Of Drills To Deter China With Ten-Day Military Exercise

Air Force Magazine: Air Force Moving Toward Multi-Domain Munitions, Away From ‘Exquisite’ Types

Air Force Magazine: Rendering ASATs Obsolete, Tweaking Missile Defenses in Light of Russian, Chinese Tests

Defense News: U.S. Navy, Marines Look For Training Systems With Accurate Adversaries, Ability To Track Individual Performance Are Light Aircraft Carriers a Good Idea? How US Special Forces Are Still Waging a War on Terror in Africa Why the Iran Nuclear Talks Were Over Before They Began

Forbes: Opinion: U.S. Army’s Project Convergence Resurrects Military Transformation, Revolutionizes Warfare



12:30 a.m. — Virtual ReutersNEXT global conference featuring “world leaders, big business and forward-thinking pioneers,” including NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg; State Department Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry; and Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and many others

9 a.m. National Harbor Marina — Defense Strategies Institute Space Resiliency Summit with John Hill, performing the duties of assistant defense secretary for space policy delivering remarks on "Coordinating Space Policy and Strategy to Further U.S. interests in Space and at Home"

9:30 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “China's Power: Up for Debate 2021,” with Army Secretary Christine Wormuth; and Bonny Lin, director of the CSIS China Power Project

9:30 a.m. — Henry L. Stimson Center virtual discussion: “Tracking U.S. Arms: Implications for Security and Stability,” with former Afghan Deputy Interior Minister Hosna Jalil; Elias Yousif, deputy director of the Security Assistance Monitor; Justine Fleischner, head of regional operations at Conflict Armament Research; and Rachel Stohl, vice president of research programs at Stimson.

10 a.m. — Ronald Reagan Foundation and Institute releases its fourth annual Reagan National Defense Survey.

10 a.m. — Woodrow Wilson Center Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies virtual discussion: “Achievements of State Building in Ukraine,” with Oleksandr Merezhko, member of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada; Georgiy Kasianov, head of the Sklodowska University Laboratory of International Memory Studies; Mykhailo Minakov, editor-in-chief of Focus Ukraine blog; and Kateryna Pishchikova, associate professor at eCampus University

11 a.m. — Heritage Foundation virtual discussion: “The Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Why the Humpty Dumpty JCPOA Should Not Be Renewed,” with Fred Fleitz, president of the Center for Security Policy; Peter Brookes, senior research fellow at Heritage; and James Phillips, senior research fellow at Heritage

3 p.m. 418 Russell — Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on "An End-of-Year Look at the State of VA."

3 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual book discussion: “Global Jihad: A Brief History,” with author Glenn Robinson, associate professor of defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School


8:30 a.m. — Brookings Institution virtual discussion: “North Korea in a new era of U.S.-South Korea partnership,” with Sohn Yul, president of the East Asia Institute; Sue Mi Terry, director of the Wilson Center's Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy; Soo Kim, policy analyst at the RAND Corporation; Jihwan Hwang, professor of international relations at the University of Seoul; Jina Kim, professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies; and Andrew Yeo, visiting fellow at the Brookings Center for East Asia Policy Studies

9 a.m. — Atlantic Council virtual discussion: “Will Russia invade Ukraine again?” with Hanna Shelest, director of security studies at the Foreign Policy Council's "Ukrainian Prism"; former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried, fellow at the Atlantic Council; former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst, senior director of the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center; and Melinda Haring, deputy director of the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center

9 a.m. — Intelligence and National Security Alliance virtual discussion with Christine Abizaid, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, on the shift of intelligence resources to focus on China and Russia, and the impact on the nation's counterterrorism posture.

9 a.m. — Defense Strategies Institute Space Resiliency Summit with Lindsay Millard, principal director for space in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, delivering remarks on "Assuring America's Space Capabilities and Maintaining the Nation's Competitive Advantage in the Space Domain"

9:30 a.m. G-50 Dirksen — Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the nomination of Adm. Christopher W. Grady to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

11 a.m. 2118 Rayburn — House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness Hearing: “Minding the Gap: How Operational Energy Can Help Us Address Logistics Challenges,” with Lt. Gen. Sam Barrett, Joint Staff director for logistics, J-4; Lt. Gen. Duane Gamble, Army deputy chief of staff, G-4; Vice Adm. Rick Williamson, deputy chief of naval operations for fleet readiness and logistics, N-4; Lt. Gen. Edward Banta, Deputy Marine Corps Commandant, installations and logistics; Lt. Gen. Warren Berry, Air Force deputy chief of staff for logistics, engineering and force protection, A-4

3:30 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “The European Union's New Strategic Compass, with EU Military Staff Director General Vice Adm. Herve Blejean


12:30 a.m. — ReutersNEXT three-day global conference wraps up a full day of events with a 4:30 p.m. interview with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on "Leading the Way in Challenging Times"

10 a.m. — Brookings Institution virtual discussion: “How to address extremism among veterans,” with William Braniff, director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism; Shawn Turner, senior adviser at the Veterans Affairs Department; Cynthia Miller-Idriss, professor at American University; Kathleen Belew, assistant professor at the University of Chicago

12 p.m. — American Security Project virtual discussion: “Addressing a Revanchist Russia,” with Steven Pifer, research fellow at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation


5 p.m. EST Simi Valley, California — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin delivers keynote address on China at day one of the two-day Reagan National Defense Forum 2021


"Anybody here remember the good old days when you actually had an appropriation bill on the floor? Hasn't been one in the Senate for at least 10 years. Now we're facing a CR just to keep the lights on in the federal government during the Christmas season.”

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, Senate majority whip, on the dysfunction in Congress when it comes to passing routine appropriations measures.