OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Defense bill set for House vote

The House still debated a separate Afghanistan amendment on Thursday from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), which was one of the early battles in the 142 amendments the House plans to get through Thursday and Friday.

The main event of the defense authorization floor debate is poised to be the fight over an amendment from House Armed Services ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) to bar indefinite detention for terror suspects captured on U.S. soil.

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Smith and Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) have been battling on indefinite detention the whole week, with each side trotting out a list of national security experts as they try to convince members to side with them.

The debate is intriguing because the amendment is backed by liberal Democrats as well as libertarian-leaning Republicans, including Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas). Smith and Amash have expressed some optimism they can get the votes to pass it.

The detainee amendment debate was expected to occur later Thursday, with a vote on the amendment Friday.

Fights unlikely to derail bill: Every year there are fights about the defense authorization bill. And every year, the bill passes — it’s been signed into law for 50 years straight. Whether or not the detainee amendment passes, it’s unlikely it will stop the bill from passing the House. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) pointed out Wednesday that his amendment is about fixing last year’s NDAA, not the current bill. A final vote on passage is expected Friday.

Looking ahead at the NDAA: Once the House passes the defense authorization bill, it will get a break as the Senate crafts its version of the NDAA. The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to mark up the bill next week in a closed-door hearing. Among the biggest issues where the two sides are expected to disagree: the overall size of the defense budget, an East Coast missile site, and two provisions dealing with same-sex marriage and the military.

A weekend of G-8 and NATO: President Obama is hosting world leaders this weekend at the Group of Eight and NATO Summits. The G-8 Summit starts at Camp David on Friday, where the leaders are expected to discuss European financial issues, as well as the upcoming P5+1 group nuclear talks with Iran.

The focus will then shift to Afghanistan on Sunday for the NATO Summit in Chicago. National security adviser Tom Donilon said Thursday that Obama would be meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai one-on-one Sunday, two weeks after the two leaders signed a strategic partnership agreement that establishes a U.S. presence in Afghanistan through 2024.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will also be attending the summit.

There are a host of issues to be discussed at the NATO conference, including how much money NATO countries will contribute to the Afghan security forces after 2014, the size of the Afghan security force and the size of the post-2014 NATO force.

One weekend wild card: New French President François Hollande, who campaigned on withdrawing French troops from Afghanistan in 2012.

Other fireworks possible: What would a meeting of world leaders be without protests? Unlike G-8, which is now being held at the secluded Camp David (it was originally going to be in Chicago, too), there are plenty of protesters gearing up for the NATO summit. There were already reports of protests on Thursday outside Obama’s campaign headquarters and countries’ consulates in Chicago; it will be interesting to see how Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel — Obama’s former chief of staff — handles the protesters.

Joint Staff director to talk strategy: Lt. Gen. George Flynn, director of the Joint Staff, is speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Friday afternoon for the think tank’s Military Strategy Forum. Flynn will giving a keynote address on the Joint Staff’s Joint Operational Access Concept.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

— U.S. pledges $70 million for Israel’s Iron Dome.
— Iran sanctions stall (again) in Senate.
— Kucinich makes unsuccessful attempt to block drone strikes.
— Full Appropriations Committee passes Defense bill.
— GOP nixes amendment to accelerate Afghan withdrawal.
— Obama campaign focuses on military families.
— US Court says indefinite detention unconstitutional.
— Senate takes up Law of the Sea treaty.

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