OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: House panel marks up defense bill

The committee then considers general provisions to the bill, which will cover everything from the war in Afghanistan to Guantánamo detainees to military chaplains.

The markup of the sweeping Pentagon policy bill that authorizes more than $500 milion in defense spending typically doesn’t conclude until well after midnight. And with a round of votes still occurring this evening that trend is likely to continue this year. 

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In the first hours of the markup, the committee went through the Seapower, Tactical Air and Land, Emerging Threats and Readiness sections of the bill.

The panel clashed over restrictions on the Pentagon’s ability to plan for closing bases, as an amendment from ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) attempted to roll back some of the restrictions in the bill. The amendment was defeated, however, 44 to 18.

The committee also defeated an effort, 51-10, from Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) to block future purchases of the F-35 fighter until its testing and production strategies get back on track.

Next steps for the authorization bill: After the bill passes the full committee at the end of the night — or Thursday morning — it will move on to the House floor next week. That will bring a whole set of new amendments to the bill, although the Rules Committee will likely prevent many of them from reaching the floor.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is also marking up its authorization bill next week. The upper chamber does its bill a bit differently, however, as the full committee markup is closed and spread out over two to three days.

For the first time, three of the Senate panel’s subcommittee markups will be open to the public, up from one last year. That includes Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) Personnel subcommittee, where the committee will consider her sexual assault legislation to take the decision to prosecute sexual assault cases outside the chain of command.

House Appropriations subpanel moves its defense bill: The House Appropriations Defense subcommittee offered a study in contrasts Wednesday as it also marked up its 2014 Pentagon spending bill.

While the Armed Services panel marked up its bill by considering hundreds of amendments in a marathon open session, the Appropriations subpanel passed its bill in closed session without making any changes.

The committee moved the bill on as it came out from the committee on Tuesday. The bill budgets $512.5 billion for defense discretionary funding and $85.1 billion to fund the war in Afghanistan.

The amount is $3 billion below the president’s budget request, but still $28 billion above the budget caps under sequestration.

Rice, Powers named to Obama national security team: President Obama on Wednesday named U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice to be the next national security adviser and former special assistant Susan Powers to succeed Rice at the U.N.

"I am absolutely thrilled she'll be back at my side, leading my national security team in my second term," Obama said announcing the new picks in the Rose Garden.

The selection of Rice to replace outgoing National Security Adviser Tom Donlion comes after she was heavily criticized for her role in the aftermath of last year’s attack in Benghazi, Libya, where she suggested the attack was the result of a spontaneous protest.

The White House later acknowledged that it was a planned terrorist attack, and the criticism surrounding Rice’s comments on the Sunday shows ultimately led to Rice taking herself out of the running to be the next secretary of State.

Her new position, however, is not Senate confirmable, so Republicans who criticized her will not have a say.

Top Republicans like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Wednesday expressed some willingness to work with her.

“Obviously I disagree w/ POTUS appointment of Susan Rice as Nat'l Security Adviser, but I'll make every effort to work w/ her on imp't issues,” McCain tweeted.


In Case You Missed It:

— NATO plans post-2014 Afghan force

— House panel defeats F-35 amendment

— Committee clashes over base closures

— Report: Panetta disclosed classified info

— Obama urged to weigh in on sex assault changes


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