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The South Lawn of the White House is seen from a car window covered with rain drops. Photo: Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty Images

U.S. national security is in greater peril “than at any time in decades,” according to a new report from a panel of top national security experts tasked by Congress with reviewing the state of American national defense.

Why it matters: The U.S. has entered into an era of "great power competition" with China, which poses an unprecedented challenge to U.S. dominance both economically and militarily, and with an increasingly assertive Russia. According to the report from the National Defense Strategy Commission, American military superiority has deteriorated to the point where the U.S. “might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia.” As U.S. superiority fades, the authors write, the likelihood of war rises.

More from the report…

  • “Rivals and adversaries are challenging the United States on many fronts and in many domains. America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt. If the nation does not act promptly to remedy these circumstances, the consequences will be grave and lasting.”
  • “Authoritarian competitors — especially China and Russia — are seeking regional hegemony and the means to project power globally. They are pursuing determined military buildups aimed at neutralizing U.S. strengths. Threats posed by Iran and North Korea have worsened as those countries have developed more advanced weapons and creatively employed asymmetric tactics.”
  • “In multiple regions, gray-zone aggression — intimidation and coercion in the space between war and peace — has become the tool of choice for many. The dangers posed by transnational threat organizations, particularly radical jihadist groups, have also evolved and intensified. Around the world, the proliferation of advanced technology is allowing more actors to contest U.S. military power in more threatening ways.”
  • “Finally, due to political dysfunction and decisions made by both major political parties... America has significantly weakened its own defense.”

Between the lines: Ambassador Eric Edelman, a co-chair of the commission, tells Michael Morell on the latest Intelligence Matters podcast that many of these warnings have been issued before: “I think what we had to wrestle with was the consequences of all those warnings having been ignored.”

Go deeper: Special report on the gravest threats the U.S. faces.

Go deeper

McConnell, McCarthy say 2017 tax law is "red line" in infrastructure talks

The top Republicans in the House and Senate told reporters after meeting with President Biden at the White House that "there is a bipartisan desire to get an outcome" on an infrastructure package, but stressed that revisiting the 2017 tax cuts is a "red line."

Why it matters: Wednesday marked the first time that Biden has hosted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) at the White House.

McCarthy: "I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy" of Biden's win

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was asked Wednesday whether he was concerned about elevating Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) to GOP leadership after she has promoted baseless claims about the election. He responded: "I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election."

Why it matters: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) was ousted as House GOP conference chair earlier Wednesday — in a vote that McCarthy supported — over her continued criticisms of former President Trump and his lies about election fraud.

Updated 39 mins ago - World

Gaza crisis: Casualties pile up with no signs of ceasefire from Israel, Hamas

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip leave their neighborhood on Wednesday following an explosion. Photo: li Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tel Aviv — With Israel and Hamas now engaged in their most destructive fight in seven years, the Biden administration is dispatching a State Department official to join the de-escalation efforts.

The latest: The Israeli air force attacked a meeting of senior Hamas military leaders on Wednesday in Gaza and reported it had killed the Gaza City Brigade commander and the heads of Hamas’ cyber arm and weapons research and development department, along with at least three other senior officials.