U.S. President Obama on Wednesday outlined a plan to establish a multibillion-dollar fund to underwrite counterterrorism trainings with other nations.
In a speech at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., Obama urged Congress to provide as much as $5 billion to establish a new Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund. The program would finance U.S. efforts to enhance the capacity of partner states such as Lebanon and Iraq to combat regional extremists, the New York Times reported.
Obama warned that the terrorism threat has become more widespread, with new al-Qaida affiliates emerging in Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.
“We have to develop a strategy that matches this diffuse threat; one that expands our reach without sending forces that stretch our military too thin, or stirs up local resentments,” Obama stated. “We need partners to fight terrorists alongside us.”
He warned that “for the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to America at home and abroad remains terrorism.”
The odds that Congress would budget money for the proposed fund in the short term do not appear good, however, the Daily Beast reported.
The new reserve is to be added to the Defense Department’s fiscal 2015 budget request and draw from the vast Overseas Contingency Operations fund, which is not part of the Pentagon’s base budget, according to the Daily Beast article. Analysts and ex-officials say the counterterrorism monies might not be approved if administration officials do not provide lawmakers with specific information about what the money will be used for and why it cannot come out of the department’s core budget.
That key lawmakers were not given a heads-up about the administration’s additional budget request also could play a role. None of the senior appropriators from either the Republican or Democratic side in the House and Senate said they had any knowledge about the counterterrorism fund before its announcement, the Daily Beast reports.
“The administration has already asked for nearly $8 billion in International Security Assistance funding, which includes both international military training and financing programs,” Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said.
What We're Following See More »
Sens. Richard Burr and Mark Warner, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, were granted broad subpoena power Thursday, as the committee "voted unanimously to give [Burr and Warner] the blanket authority for the duration of the investigation into Russia's election meddling and possible collusion with President Trump's campaign." The two leaders must agree, but no longer need the approval of the rest of the committee.
Republican Greg Gianforte won the special election Thursday to fill the Montana House seat left vacant when Donald Trump selected former Congressman Ryan Zinke as Interior secretary. Gianforte, who lost a race for Montana governor in 2016, took 50 percent of the vote to Democrat Rob Quist's 44 percent. Gianforte assaulted Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs the night before the election and it was unclear if it would affect the race. In his victory speech, Gianforte apologized to Jacobs, saying "Last night, I made a mistake and I took an action that I cant take back ... I am sorry Mr. Ben Jacobs."