The week ahead: Defense budget battle shifts to House floor

The House Armed Services Committee passed its wide-ranging $643 billion defense authorization bill early Thursday morning, but not before Republican members tacked on a number of measures guaranteed to draw fire from the White House and House Democrats. 

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The authorization bill that passed the committee by a 56-5 vote authorizes initial planning for an East Coast missile defense site, bans same-sex marriage ceremonies on military bases and restores funding for several weapons systems. 

Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) voted against passage of the committee's version of the defense bill. 

But panel members did not weigh in on the detention of terror suspects by the United States and on the White House's withdrawal plan in Afghanistan. 

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the committee's ranking member, plans to introduce standalone amendments on both of those issues once the full House takes up the committee's bill for a vote. 

Smith previewed the amendments he plans to put forward during Wednesday’s markup of the defense bill.

One amendment would accelerate the U.S. handover of all security operations in Afghanistan to the country's burgeoning armed forces. To date, U.S. military leaders have only handed over control of detainee operations and oversight of night raids to the Afghan security forces. 

The amendment will also likely call for a smaller number of American troops in country in the run-up to the Obama administration's 2014 withdrawal deadline. 

The White House anticipates having 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan until 2014, which is when all American and coalition soldiers are scheduled to leave the country.

Another amendment from Smith will look to roll back the White House's authority to arrest and indefinitely detain terror suspects captured on American soil. 

"Keeping this [authority] on the books is a dangerous threat to civil liberties," he said Wednesday.

Smith proposed similar amendments to the House defense committee early Thursday morning, but withdrew them quickly, saying he planned to bring them back up once the committee's mark hit the House floor. 

On the Senate side, defense lawmakers have no hearings scheduled as they prepare to mark up their version of the fiscal 2013 defense bill. 

Senate defense subcommittee hearings are scheduled to begin on May 22, with the Seapower subpanel going first, followed by the Readiness subcommittee, the Emerging Threats and Capabilities panel and finally the Airland and Personnel subcommittees. 

Members of the Strategic Forces will mark up their portion of the bill on May 23, before the full committee weighs in on the legislation later that day. Panel members plan to have the Senate version of the bill wrapped up on May 24. 

Off Capitol Hill, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will weigh in on the Pentagon's strategic shift from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region during a speech on Monday at the Center for International and Strategic Studies. 

Former DOD policy chief Michele Flournoy will give her thoughts during a Tuesday speech at the American Enterprise Institute on what lies ahead for the Pentagon's budget plan and how looming budget cuts will affect U.S. national security policy. 

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert on Wednesday will discuss the Pentagon's attempt to draft new joint doctrine blending air and sea operations — known as the AirSea Battle plan — at the Brookings Institute. 

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