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Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., pauses before speaking to reporters. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Following a classified briefing with Pentagon officials on the Niger ambush, Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee, told reporters that although the briefing was "progress," he left it with 100 unanswered questions and still doesn't know why it took 48 hours to find the fourth fallen service member.

  • Be smart: McCain and Ted Cruz both said their assessment is "there's no doubt" there is a rising terrorism threat in Africa with the fall of ISIS in Raqqa, and Bill Nelson and Thom Tillis agreed the threat is metastasizing. Cruz said he left the meeting thinking there will "be a continued need for U.S. military presence in Africa," although there was no discussion about increasing the military presence.
  • Senators disagree on whether this tragedy could have been prevented: Following the briefing Senator Ted Cruz said he was "encouraged...there were not significant steps that could have been taken to prevent this assault," (although he noted he still doesn't know "what precisely occurred"). Senator Richard Blumenthal, on the other hand, said his impression leaving the meeting was that he couldn't "look those families in the eye and say we're doing everything we need to do to provide sufficient intelligence."

Expect Niger to be fodder for discussions about military budgeting and the AUMF:

  • McCain said Congress "should be embarrassed" about Niger, claiming it's a direct result of Congress' inability to pass a budget that funds the military adequately.
  • McCain said this would be a "catalyst" for a new AUMF. He, along with the committee's top Democrat, Jack Reed, have been working on an AUMF proposal, and Tim Kaine and Jeff Flake have a joint pitch for a new AUMF already. Stay tuned for the public hearing on a new AUMF next week.

Up next: McCain said there would be regular briefings on Niger. The Niger report is expected to take 30 days to complete.

Catch up quick: What happened during this month's Niger attack

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).

4 hours ago - World

Scoop: Blinken protests Israel settlements approval in "tense" phone call

Benny Gantz (L) and Tony Blinken. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken protested the decision to approve 3,000 new housing units in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank during a tense phone call on Tuesday with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, three Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time new construction in the settlements has been approved since President Biden assumed office, and the Biden administration had been privately pressing the Israeli government not to proceed.

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.

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