OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: House panel approves $491B for Pentagon

THE TOPLINE: The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday easily passed a $491 billion spending bill for the Defense Department.

The panel became the first to axe the Air Force’s much beloved A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft fleet. Members defeated, by a show of hands, an amendment offered by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) to keep the attack plane, commonly known at the “Warthog,” flying for at least one more year.

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The committee’s markup of the massive spending measure, which took less than four hours to complete, saw lawmakers adopt a provision that would prevent the DOD from using funds to transfer more prisoners from the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The legislation is a direct response to the administration’s controversial prisoner trade that saw U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl freed in exchange for five Taliban commanders.

Committee members also junked two measures that would have reined in the longstanding authorizations for use of military force.

The spending measure, adopted by voice vote, could reach the House floor as soon as next week.

VA REFORM TO HIT SENATE FLOOR. A bipartisan bill to reform the Veterans Affairs Department’s scandal-plagued healthcare system could come up for debate as soon as Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidAbortion rights group ads tie vulnerable GOP senators to Trump Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Congress departs for recess until after Election Day MORE (D-Nev.) said he would call up the legislation “in the next 24 hours, 48 hours at the most.”

“We’re going to take it up tomorrow,” said Sen. John McCainJohn McCainOvernight Defense: Congress overrides Obama 9/11 veto | Pentagon breathes easy after funding deal | More troops heading to Iraq McCain comments won't derail Bergdahl case Senators already eyeing changes to 9/11 bill after veto override MORE (R-Ariz.), who crafted the measure along with Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersVulnerable NH Republican ties reelection bid to Trump Overnight Finance: Congress poised to avoid shutdown | Yellen defends Fed from Trump | Why Obama needs PhRMA on trade Trump mocks Clinton for stumbling while sick with pneumonia MORE (I-Vt.).

The House passed its own VA healthcare reform bill on Tuesday, twice. The measure lets veterans visit private doctors if they cannot see an agency doctor within 14 days.

BERGDAHL DEBATE BREWS ON. The White House strongly refuted claims by GOP lawmakers that it was attempting to shift responsibility for the controversial Bergdahl prisoner trade onto Defense Secretary Chuck HagelChuck HagelCreating a future for vets in DC Republicans back Clinton, but will she put them in Pentagon? There's still time for another third-party option MORE.

It also denied rumors that nearly 100 members of the administration knew about the swap in advance. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said while anywhere from 80 to 90 had access to intelligence on Taliban moves in Qatar, fewer knew about the mission to rescue Bergdahl.

Democrats appeared to close ranks behind the administration’s handling of the matter with House Democratic Whip Steny Hower (Md.) saying the administration did not break the law in the trade.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinSenate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Senators already eyeing changes to 9/11 bill after veto override WH tried to stop Intel Dems' statement on Russian hacking: report MORE (D-Calif.) also backed away from her criticism of the White House, saying “enough is enough” and that it was time to end the debate over Bergdahl.

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Boehner3 ways the next president can succeed on immigration reform Republican Study Committee elders back Harris for chairman Dems to GOP: Help us fix ObamaCare MORE (R-Ohio), though, predicted the U.S. would “pay” for releasing the Taliban commanders.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

-5 US soldiers die in ‘friendly fire’ strike

-Al GoreAl GoreDemocrats target Libertarian ticket Mark Mellman: Debating the debate Debate of century lives up to its billing MORE: Snowden not a traitor

-Rubio slams Clinton for Benghazi remarks

-Dem: Leaks come from administration, not Congress

-Feinstein backs off Bergdahl criticism

 

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