House Panel Passes $696.5bn Defense Policy Bill

The House Armed Services Committee easily passed its $696.5 billion defense policy late Wednesday night. The committee’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed 60-1 and now moves to the full House for a vote after the July 4 recess, The Hill reports.

The bill would authorize $621.5 billion in the base defense budget and $75 billion in a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. Of the OCO, $10 billion would be used for base budget items.

The bill is $28.5 billion above what President Donald Trump had requested, but $8.5 billion less than what Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry originally planned to put in the bill.

Moreover, the bill’s passage came after a nearly 14-hour markup that hit on a number of contentious issues. Thus, an amendment to require the Pentagon to study the effects of climate change on military installations successfully made it into the bill. Another one to require women to register for the draft failed, as did one to require the Pentagon to report to Congress on Trump’s travel expenses.

Other failed amendments include one to discard plans for a new Space Corps and one to reduce the number of littoral combat ships the bill would authorize. Also, an amendment to reverse the Pentagon’s transgender policy was withdrawn with the vow to bring it back when the legislation comes to the House floor if the Pentagon does not act on its own.

An amendment was also added to clarify that the bill would not allow another round of base closures. Previously, the remaining parts of a standalone bill from Representative Adam Smith, the committee’s ranking member, were added during an uncontroversial vote on a package of amendments at the end of the night.

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