OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Senate sticks with White House in defense bill, sets up showdown with House

The House and Senate did agree on some things, though — including several items the Pentagon will take issue with on TRICARE frees and Air Guard cuts. Read more about the defense bill that passed here.

Itching for a floor fight: The Senate committee saved one of the most contentious issues in the defense authorization bill for the Senate floor: indefinite detention. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) had an amendment that would have changed the language from last year’s defense authorization legislation on military detention of terror suspects captured on U.S. soil, but he withdrew it to wait for debate on the floor.

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It makes sense for Udall to wait for the floor, where he will have an ally in Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was unlikely that Udall was going to convince the committee heads in either party, as both Levin and ranking member Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took on Udall on the floor last year over indefinite detention.

McCain said Thursday that he was once again predicting “a couple days of vigorous debate on the floor” over detainees.

Senators want sequestration info: While the Senate’s defense bill did not tackle the sequestration cuts themselves, it did include a measure that hints at the new line from defense hawks in Congress on the scheduled automatic cuts to defense: the authorization bill included a provision that would require the Pentagon to explain what the impact of sequestration would be. So far the Pentagon has said it isn’t planning for sequestration and won’t begin to do so until the summer. Defense-minded senators are fighting for Congress not to wait until the lame-duck session to fix sequestration, and the latest provision, if passed, would give them ammo to make their case on Capitol Hill and to the public.

Get Carter: While the Senate might not get the information it's looking for from DOD on sequestration, they could get something when Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter takes the podium at the conservative American Enterprise Institute next Wednesday. The No. 2 civilian at DOD will lay out his thoughts on the department's defense budget priorities for the 21st century. Those future priorities will undoubtedly include some kind of impact from sequestration. But despite calls from Capitol Hill to present some kind of game plan for the looming budget cuts, DOD has played its cards close to the vest. On one hand, some military officials say the cuts could end up shutting down the Pentagon. On the other hand, department officials have been adamant that DOD has not and will not make any plans to handle sequestration until this summer. Attendees to Carter's speech will likely get more of that same argument next Wednesday. 

Showtime: As faithful readers of Overnight Defense know, we at DEFCON Hill have spent this past week giving you updates on the Navy's Memorial Day extravaganza known as Fleet Week in New York. DEFCON Hill took a visit down to the Big Apple on Thursday to talk V-22 Osprey with some of the Marines in Manhattan. While down there, we heard that Osprey builder Bell Boeing has some big plans for the versatile aircraft. But it being Fleet Week and all, the Marines are planning to show New Yorkers and non-New Yorkers exactly what the V-22 can do. Beginning Friday, Marine Corps units will conduct simulated raid drills at Eisenhower Park, Rye Playland or Clove Lakes Park. Marine planners were slim on details of what the demos will actually show, but whatever it is, it's sure to be a show. 


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: 

— Iran, world powers agree to go one more round on nuke talks
— Senate hits Pakistan in the wallet for conviction of Bin Laden whistleblower
— Women soldiers make their case for a battlefield role
— President Obama says the worst is over for incoming Air Force officers