House panel approves $696.5B defense policy bill

House panel approves $696.5B defense policy bill
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The House Armed Services Committee easily passed its $696.5 billion defense policy late Wednesday night.

The committee’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed 60-1 and now moves to the full House for a vote after the July 4 recess.

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardHawaii governor signs first-ever bill banning sunscreens that harm coral reefs Overnight Defense: VA pick breezes through confirmation hearing | House votes to move on defense bill negotiations | Senate bill would set 'stringent' oversight on North Korea talks Pavlich: The left’s defense of evil MORE (D-Hawaii) was the lone no vote.

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The bill would authorize $621.5 billion in the base defense budget and $75 billion in a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. Of the OCO, $10 billion would be used for base budget items.

The bill is $28.5 billion above what President Trump had requested, but $8.5 billion less than what committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) originally planned to put in the bill.

Thornberry agreed to lower his bill’s top line to follow an emerging budget deal in the House.

The bill’s passage in the committee came after a nearly 14-hour markup that hit on a number of contentious issues.

An amendment to require the Pentagon to study the effects of climate change on military installations successfully made it into the bill.

Another one to require women to register for the draft failed, as did one to require the Pentagon to report to Congress on Trump’s travel expenses. 

Other failed amendments include one to scrap plans for a new Space Corps and one to reduce the number of littoral combat ships the bill would authorize.

Meanwhile, an amendment to reverse the Pentagon’s transgender policy was withdrawn with the vow to bring it back when the bill comes to the House floor if the Pentagon does not act on its own.

An amendment was also added to clarify that the bill would not allow another round of base closures. Previously, the bill was silent on the issue.

And the remaining parts of a standalone bill from Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Washington reeling from Trump, Putin press conference Dems introduce bill to eliminate ICE, shift duties elsewhere America stands to lose as China places bets on developing world MORE (D-Wash.), the committee's ranking member, were added during an uncontroversial vote on a package of amendments at the end of the night. The bill would require the Pentagon to craft a comprehensive strategy on Russia, among other provisions.

Updated at 1:04 a.m.