Week Ahead: Senate takes shot at Pentagon spending bill

But the full committee markup, where many of the bill’s most contentious policy issues are hashed out, will remain behind closed doors, as will the markups of the Seapower, Strategic Forces and Emerging Threats, and Capabilities subcommittees.

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The entire Senate defense panel will mark up the DOD spending package on Wednesday after the committee's Seapower subpanel weighs in on their portion of the DOD budget. 

The full committee expects to have the full markup completed by Thursday, but leaders have set aside time on Friday, if necessary, to finish work on the legislation. 

House lawmakers authorized $638 billion in defense spending in their version of the DOD bill last Thursday. That legislation is headed to the full House for a vote next week. 

The bill provides an increase of $5.1 billion for the war in Afghanistan from the Pentagon request, and it sets base Pentagon spending at $526.6 billion, the same amount that was requested in President Obama’s budget.

That funding level is also $52.2 billion over the budget caps set by the sequestration law.

On the Airpower side, Senate defense lawmakers are likely to address several of the DOD's top-dollar combat and surveillance aviation programs. Topping the list of policy questions will be the future of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. 

On the House side, lawmakers defeated a proposal by Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) to block F-35 funding until the Pentagon and primary contractor Lockheed Martin can get the program back on track. 

Duckworth’s amendment would have fenced off federal funds for the F-35 until "concurrency" problems in the jet fighter's development were resolved. 

The F-35 effort is based on a plan where testing and construction of the fighter happens at the same time. 

However, testing on certain software and technologies has not kept pace with the jet's construction. Those delays, Duckworth said, have put the program years behind schedule and caused costs to skyrocket. 

House Republicans on the panel shot down the amendment, arguing the move would only further delay the program. 

Aside from the F-35 issue, members of the Senate Personnel subpanel will have their hands full with efforts to curb sexual assault in the military. 

On the House side, committee members adopted significant changes to the military’s judicial code in order to deal with sex crimes.

The House version of the DOD bill strips military commanders’ authority to overturn guilty verdicts in a post-trial review and establishes a mandatory sentence of dismissal or dishonorable discharge for service members who were convicted of sexual assault.

The Senate Armed Services Emerging Threats subcommittee, meanwhile, will be grappling with the push for a new East Coast missile shield. 

House defense committee members backed an effort by Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) to direct $140 million for construction for the new site in a party-line vote. Democrats argued that the technology is not yet ready and said it would be premature to begin building a new site.

Members of the subcommittee will also debate, in private, possible changes to the U.S. rules of war on terror. 

House defense lawmakers began the slow process of rolling back the White House and Pentagon's unprecedented powers under the 9/11-era rules of war on terrorism, including provisions in their budget bill to dramatically increase lawmakers' oversight of U.S. counterterrorism operations.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) is weighing possible amendments to the Senate's version of the Pentagon's 2014 budget plan as a vehicle to change the rules governing U.S. counter terrorism operations, he told The Hill in May. 

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