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.

ADVERTISEMENT
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 Mason ReidMcConnell not yet ready to change rules for Trump nominees The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate Trump to press GOP on changing Senate rules 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 Sidney McCainFor .2 billion, taxpayers should get more than Congress’s trial balloons Overnight Defense: Pompeo lays out new Iran terms | Pentagon hints at more aggressive posture against Iran | House, Senate move on defense bill Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (R-Ariz.), who crafted the measure along with Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Defense: Trump decision on Korea summit coming 'next week' | China disinvited from major naval exercise | Senate sends VA reform bill to Trump Senate sends major VA reform bill to Trump's desk What's wrong with the Democratic Party? Just look at California 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 HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: Latest on historic Korea summit | Trump says 'many people' interested in VA job | Pompeo thinks Trump likely to leave Iran deal Should Mike Pompeo be confirmed? Intel chief: Federal debt poses 'dire threat' to national security 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 Emiel FeinsteinFormer US attorneys urge support for Trump nominee The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Republicans see some daylight in midterm polling Senate panel clears bill to bolster probes of foreign investment deals 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 Andrew BoehnerRepublicans fear retribution for joining immigration revolt Freedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights GOP revolts multiply against retiring Ryan 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 GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreCan Trump beat the Nobel odds? Will Trump win in 2020? Look to the mortgage market Mahmoud Abbas' exit from the Palestinian Authority is long overdue MORE: Snowden not a traitor

-Rubio slams Clinton for Benghazi remarks

-Dem: Leaks come from administration, not Congress

-Feinstein backs off Bergdahl criticism

 

Please send tips and comments to Kristina Wong, kwong@thehill.com, and Martin Matishak, mmatishak@thehill.com

Follow us on Twitter: @thehill, @kristina_wong, @martinmatishak