Overnight Defense: What the midterms mean for defense panels | Pompeo cancels North Korea meeting | Trump eyes Kim summit in early 2019 | Pentagon drops name for border mission

Overnight Defense: What the midterms mean for defense panels | Pompeo cancels North Korea meeting | Trump eyes Kim summit in early 2019 | Pentagon drops name for border mission
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Happy Wednesday 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: The dust is settling after Tuesday's midterm elections which saw Democrats win control of the House and Republicans expand their Senate majority.

For defense, that means House Armed Services Committee ranking member Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithDems seek House panel's support to block military funds for Trump border wall 2019 should be Trump’s free trade year Congress poised to push back at Trump on Saudi Arabia, Syria MORE (D-Wash.) is poised to become the committee's next chairman.

In the lead up to the election, Smith listed some of his priorities for the chairmanship as reining in defense spending, conducting more vigorous oversight of military operations around the world and working to roll back President TrumpDonald John TrumpPentagon update to missile defense doctrine will explore space-base technologies, lasers to counter threats Giuliani: 'I never said there was no collusion' between the Trump campaign and Russia Former congressmen, RNC members appointed to Trump administration roles MORE's plans to expand and modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

The Senate results, meanwhile, mean that Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeDem senator expresses concern over acting EPA chief's 'speedy promotion' Overnight Defense: Senators say questions remain after Syria briefing | Trump inches closer to declaring emergency to build wall | Air Force accepts Boeing tankers despite flaws Senators say questions remain on Trump strategy in Syria after briefing MORE (R-Okla.) will keep his chairmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Changes are also in store for the memberships of both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. Here's how some defense-related races shook out:

 

Senate Armed Services Dems: Vulnerable Democrats who serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee either lost or are in too-close-to-call races.

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government Ex-Sen. McCaskill joins NBC, MSNBC Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party MORE (D-Mo.) lost to Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), while Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party Senate approves funding bill, preventing partial government shutdown MORE (D-Ind.) lost to GOP businessman Mike Braun.

Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonFlorida lawmaker diagnosed with pancreatic cancer Rick Scott threw party at Florida governor’s mansion after DeSantis and family had moved in: report Restoration of voting rights by felons marks shift in Florida MORE (D-Fla.), meanwhile, is expecting to head to a recount in his race against Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), where Scott holds a slim lead in the too-close-to-call race.

Several other committee Democrats who were expected to easily win re-election did so: Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineMcConnell: Senate will not recess if government still shutdown Kaine threatens to object to Senate leaving for recess Senators restart shutdown talks — and quickly hit roadblocks MORE (D-Va.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandGillibrand and Booker play 'How Well Do You Know Your Co-Worker' game amid 2020 speculation O'Rourke blogs from road trip: 'Have been stuck lately. In and out of a funk' Julián Castro calls for ‘tuition-free’ public colleges, apprenticeships MORE (D-N.Y.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenMoveOn leaders stepping down before 2020 election Julián Castro calls for ‘tuition-free’ public colleges, apprenticeships Native American leader asks when US will come to its ‘senses’ after Trump’s ‘racist’ attack against Warren MORE (D-Mass.).

 

Cruz beats O'Rourke: House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Beto O'RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O'RourkeFormer staffer accuses Jackson Lee of retaliation after rape claim O'Rourke blogs from road trip: 'Have been stuck lately. In and out of a funk' Beto O'Rourke: Border wall 'will ensure death' MORE (D) was not able to best Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCongress can stop the war on science O'Rourke blogs from road trip: 'Have been stuck lately. In and out of a funk' Texas governor, top lawmakers tell Trump not to use hurricane relief funds to build border wall MORE (R) in deep red Texas.

Still, O'Rourke put up a stronger-than-expected fight and chatter has already begun on the rising Democratic star's 2020 potential.

 

Arizona too close: Air Force veteran and House Armed Service member Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyOn The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Science group seeks to draft Mark Kelly for 2020 Arizona Senate race MORE's (R-Ariz.) race against Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) for a Senate seat remains too close to call.

House Armed Services Republicans: Over on the House Armed Services Committee, several Republicans are out.

The most surprising was Rep. Steve RussellSteven (Steve) Dane Russell5 themes to watch for in 2020 fight for House Oklahoma New Members 2019 Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — First lady's office pushes for ouster of national security aide | Trump taps retired general as ambassador to Saudis | Mattis to visit border troops | Record number of female veterans to serve in Congress MORE (R-Okla.), who lost in a reliably red district to Democrat Kendra Horn.

Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanGardner gets first Dem challenger for 2020 Senate race The 5 most competitive Senate races of 2020 10 things we learned from the midterms MORE (R-Colo.), who was seen as very vulnerable, lost to Democratic challenger Jason Crow.

Rep. Steve Knight (R-Calif.) conceded his race to Democratic challenger Katie Hill on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan Duane HunterWhat a year it’s been: A month-by-month look back at 2018's biggest stories Bipartisan lawmakers unveil bill to tighten some campaign rules California dreamin’ in the 2020 presidential race MORE (R-Calif.), who stepped down from the committee after being indicted on campaign finance violations, won reelection.

 

Tester hangs on: Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterCentrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter Dems offer measure to raise minimum wage to per hour Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party MORE (D-Mont.), the ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, survived his race against Republican Matt Rosendale to win a third term.

Tester became a top target for Trump, who traveled to Montana to campaign several times in recent weeks, for his role in bringing down the nomination of Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson to be Veterans Affairs chief.

 

NORTH KOREA SETBACK: You'd be forgiven for not realizing there has been another setback in nuclear talks with North Korea.

While most of America had its eyes locked on election results overnight, the State Department announced Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTop North Korean official to meet with Trump this week: report The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi asks Trump to postpone State of the Union | US troops killed in Syria blast | Day 2 of Barr confirmation US calls China's death sentence for Canadian man 'politically motivated' MORE's meeting with North Korea's nuclear negotiator this week has been postponed.

In a statement just after midnight Wednesday, department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the New York meeting will now take place at an unspecified "later date."

"We will reconvene when our respective schedules permit," she said. "Ongoing conversations continue to take place. The United States remains focused on fulfilling the commitments agreed to by President Trump and Chairman Kim [Jong Un] at the Singapore Summit in June."

 

Original plans: Pompeo was expected to travel Thursday to New York with the Trump administration's special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegu.

They were scheduled to meet with Kim Yong Chol, former head of North Korea's spy agency who has been leading nuclear talks for North Korea.

The purpose of the meeting was to "discuss making progress on all four pillars of the Singapore Summit joint statement, including achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization" of North Korea, according to a Monday statement from the State Department.

Plans for a second summit between Trump and Kim were also expected to be discussed.

 

Why: The statement gave no reason why the meeting was postponed.

In a press conference Wednesday, Trump suggested it was merely a scheduling conflict.

"We're going to change it because of trips that are being made," Trump said. "We're going to make it to another date."

Trump also indicated he still wants to meet with Kim again and said he is now eying early next year.

 

How bad is it?: At least one regional expert cast the cancellation as a pretty bad sign.

"It goes without saying that with this recent cancellation, combined with tough statements coming out of Pyongyang along with Washington taking a tough line on sanctions relief, one thing is certain: the détente of 2018 could soon slip away," Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest, said in an email to reporters. "It seems most likely talks were cancelled to spare both sides the negative press of a failed negotiation, as North Korea and Washington seem very far apart on a viable path forward on denuclearization. We should all be watching the Korean Peninsula very careful over the next few days, as all indications so far show that the North Korea crisis is far from over. And that should worry us all."

 

'FAITHFUL PATRIOT' NO MORE: President Trump's order to deploy 7,000 U.S. troops to the border has been slammed by critics as a political stunt to energize his base heading into the midterms.

One of the details critics cited was the name of mission: Operation Faithful Patriot.

Now, a day after the elections, news broke that the Pentagon is no longer using that name.

Pentagon officials now refer to the deployment of more than 7,000 active duty troops as "border support," Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis told The Hill.

Davis said the name change has been in place for "a couple of days," but did not give the reason for it.

 

One possibility: The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, cited unnamed officials as saying one possible reason for getting rid of the Faithful Patriot name is the deployment is not technically an "operation" but rather is being done in support of another agency.

The Journal also reported that Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisFox's Griffin: Was told by diplomat that Syria attack was 'direct result' of US pullout decision GOP reasserts NATO support after report on Trump’s wavering Overnight Defense: Trump faces blowback over report he discussed leaving NATO | Pentagon extends mission on border | Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions MORE's office made the decision to drop the name and issued the order on Election Day.

 

AVIATION SAFETY: The work of governing is churning on, too, even as the country is focused on the elections.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and House Armed Services Chairman Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryDems seek House panel's support to block military funds for Trump border wall Syria too complex to make decisions in 280 characters … even for a president The Hill's Morning Report — Back to the drawing board as shutdown reaches 19 days MORE (R-Texas) announced Wednesday their appointments to the National Commission on Military Aviation Safety. The commission was created in this year's defense policy bill to address a spate of deadly aircraft accidents.

Smith chose retired Gen. Raymond Johns, Jr., who commanded Air Mobility Command from 2009 to 2012. Thornberry is appointing Pete Geren, who served in several top Pentagon posts from 2001 to 2009.

The president will appoint another four members of the commission.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

Army Secretary Mark Esper will discuss the future of the Army at 9:15 a.m. at the American Enterprise Institute. https://bit.ly/2JMfm7U

Kori Schake, a national security official in the George W. Bush administration and current deputy director-general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, will discuss "Was the United States Ever Good at National Security Policy?" at 4:45 p.m. at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. https://bit.ly/2yXg7GM

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: Trump scheduled for Macron meeting, no other one-on-ones with world leaders while in Paris

-- The Hill: Active-duty troops at border will not receive combat pay

-- The Hill: Pompeo approves sanctions exception for development of Iranian port to help Afghan economy

-- Associated Press: Troops from Saudi-led coalition take Yemen port neighborhood

-- Associated Press: US Syria envoy says US to contest Iran activities in region

-- The New York Times: Navy completes inquiry into strangling death of Army Green Beret in Mali