President Trump has reportedly directed the Pentagon to permanently reduce the number of U.S. troops stationed in Germany from 34,500 to 25,000. Germany's conservatives aren't pleased with the move, while the country's left wing parties welcomed it, The Guardian reports.
"The plans show that the Trump administration is neglecting an elementary task of leadership, to bind coalition partners into decision-making processes," said Johann Wadephul, the deputy chair of the parliamentary group of the Christian Democratic Union, to which Chancellor Angela Merkel belongs.
While the Trump administration's decision reportedly isn't linked to recent disagreements between Trump and Merkel, it does reflect the president's longstanding view that Germany hasn't pulled its weight in terms of defense spending as a key member of NATO. Subsequently, Berlin is concerned the alliance is fraying, which Wadephul says benefits only Russia and China. James Townsend, a former Pentagon official for Europe and NATO, told The Wall Street Journal the plan "erodes trust" with Germany, as well as other allies, even those outside NATO. South Korea, for example, may be worried about a similar maneuver while Seoul and Washington try to sort out how much South Korea should pay to defray the cost of U.S. military deployment there, per The Journal.
But not everyone's upset. Dietmar Bartsch, the leader of the parliamentary group of Germany's democratic socialist Die Linke Party, said Berlin should be thankful for the decision and "promptly start preparing the complete withdrawal of U.S. soldiers." Poland is also pleased with the development, considering reports that at least some of the 9,500 troops scheduled to leave Germany will head there, since Warsaw is meeting NATO's military-spending goal. Polish Prime Minister Matuesz Morawiecki said bolstering NATO's eastern border "will be a security boost to all of Europe." Read more at The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell
The House of Representatives on Thursday passed an election security bill in a vote occurring mainly across party lines.
The Securing America's Federal Elections Act passed in the House in a 225-to-184 vote on Thursday, with one Republican, Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), breaking from the rest of his party to vote in favor of it.
The House's bill attempts to strengthen the nation's election security ahead of 2020 with $600 million going toward updating equipment and with new rules requiring the use of paper ballots, as well as for voting machines to not connect to the internet or be made outside of the United States, The Washington Post reports.
Republicans had voiced objections to the bill prior to Thursday's vote, with Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) arguing against the paper ballot requirement by saying, "Mandating the exclusive use of paper ballots will create longer lines at polling places and can be lost, destroyed or manipulated far easier than electronic voting machines with a paper trail backup," The Hill reports.
Some Republicans also said the bill would interfere with state and local governments, the Post reports, with Davis arguing to The New York Times that it's full of "unfunded and underfunded mandates" that are "not what local election officials in my state asked for."
This, the Times reports, is the first in a series of bills Democrats plan to push in response to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, with another potentially requiring campaigns to report offers of foreign assistance to the FBI.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ahead of the Thursday vote asked Republicans in the House, "what's wrong with replacing outdated, vulnerable voting equipment?" She also slammed the Republican-controlled Senate, saying they are giving "foreign countries the green light to attack our country." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday told the Times the election security bill is a "nonstarter." Brendan Morrow
GOP supporters tend to be happier with their marriages — or so they say.
A new study published by a professor at the University of Virginia reveals a significant difference in how Democrats, independents, and Republicans view their marriages. According to the study, Republicans are an average of 7 percent happier with their marriages than Democrats or independents. While 60 percent of Democrats and independents separately reported being "very happy" with their marriages, 67 percent of Republicans said they were.
Though that gap in marriage satisfaction shrank somewhat when researchers factored in demographic differences between parties — Republicans tend to be more white and more religiously observant — they still found that the gap in marriage happiness remained. Even among people with the exact same demographic profile, Republicans were still found to be somewhat happier in their marriages than their Democratic counterparts.
Researchers pointed out that this discrepancy might reveal less about Republicans' marriages, and more about their attitudes. "Perhaps Republicans are more optimistic, more charitable, or more inclined to look at their marriages through rose colored glasses," the researchers wrote. Becca Stanek