House GOP includes billions for anti-Iran weapons in defense bill

Committee members will vote on the fiscal '13 defense authorization bill on Wednesday. That bill will have roughly $350 million in research and procurement funding for a entire slate of weapons designed to counter the Iranian threat.

If approved, the House version of the fiscal '13 defense bill will finance everything from unmanned intelligence drones and self-guided, shoulder-fired rockets to heavy machine guns mounted on U.S. warships to repel small-boat attacks.

The Iranian navy has been known to use fleets of small patrol boats to swarm larger warships steaming near the Iranian coastline.

Panel member Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) initially proposed this weapons package in a standalone bill brought to the House floor on April 24.

Those weapon systems, once funded, will "enhance readiness and U.S. military capabilities” in the Middle East, with a particular focus on Iran, according to Conaway's bill.

However, McKeon opted to adopt Conaway's bill into the overall defense authorization legislation. The Hill first reported plans to fold in Conaway's plan into the fiscal '13 defense budget blueprint in April.

While the majority of Conaway's mandates were absorbed into the House defense bill wholesale, some parts of the original bill had to be excluded from the committee's legislation, Conaway spokesman Sam Ray said on Monday.

Some of the language in the Conaway legislation was excluded because it mimicked existing mandates in the Export-Import Bank reauthorization bill crafted by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Ray said.

Other parts were dropped from the McKeon defense bill, particularly those concerning future U.S. military partnerships in the Middle East, since they fell under the jurisdiction of the House Foreign Affairs committee, according to Ray.

Conaway plans to repackage the portions of his bill dropped from the committee's defense legislation as a standalone amendment, once the committee's defense bill comes to the House floor for a vote, Ray said.

Conaway told The Hill in April there was “no question” the military would be ready to respond if the Obama administration decided to take action against Iran.

However, Tehran “must understand when the president says all options are on the table [it will] include kinetic action,” Conaway said at the time.

For his part, McKeon first voiced his intentions to beef up the Pentagon’s ability to counter the threat posed by Iran back in March.

“We are doing what we can to make sure [the United States] is protected … and that is what we are going to do,” McKeon told reporters during a March 21 briefing on Capitol Hill.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mis-stated the language from Rep. Conaway's bill that was excluded from Rep. McKeon's legislation. This story was updated at 7:45 to remove the error.