Overnight Defense: House takes up defense policy bill | Strikes anti-border wall language | Mattis opposes plan for military space branch | Ryan, Barbara Lee discuss war authorization

Overnight Defense: House takes up defense policy bill | Strikes anti-border wall language | Mattis opposes plan for military space branch | Ryan, Barbara Lee discuss war authorization
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THE TOPLINE: The House kicked off debate Wednesday on the annual defense policy bill with a fight about President Trump's proposed border wall.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed out of committee included a provision prohibiting Pentagon funding from being used for the wall.

But the rule for debate of the bill stripped that out, angering Democrats.

"It is a legislative magic trick, a sneaky gimmick designed to disguise their actions," Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said of using the rule to remove the provision.

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"Once again, Speaker Ryan and the House Republicans are doing President Trump's dirty work. They want to make sure Trump can build his wall, but they're also desperate to avoid a clean, up-or-down vote on this issue. They are hiding from American voters."

Read more about that here.

 

WHITE HOUSE KNOCKS NUMBER OF PROVISIONS: The White House also released its official statement of administration policy about the House version of the defense policy bill.

It said the administration was generally supportive of the bill, but listed a couple dozen provisions it opposes and said it hopes to work with Congress on the issues.

Among the provisions targeted by the administration are ones that would prevent a new round of base closures, establish a new branch of the military dedicated to space, limit an arms treaty with Russia, require congressional notification of cyber operations and prevent recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea.

Read more about the objections here.

 

SPACE CORPS FIGHT: Defense Secretary James Mattis also opposes the NDAA provision that would create a new military branch dedicated to space, a development congressional opponents of the move are hoping will bolster their position.

In a letter released Wednesday by Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), Mattis argued now is not the time to create a new branch of the military.

"I strongly urge Congress to reconsider the proposal of a separate service Space Corps," Mattis wrote in a letter to Turner. "I believe it is premature at add additional organization and administrative tail to the department at a time I am trying to reduce overhead."

Turner is pushing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would strip out the provision creating the service and replace it with a requirement for the Pentagon to study the issue.

Read more on the proposed Space Corps here.

 

IN OTHER NEWS ... BABY STEPS ON MILITARY AUTHORIZATION: House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees House Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACA Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids MORE (R-Wis.) and Rep. Barbra Lee (D-Calif.) met Wednesday afternoon to hash out a possible new war authorization to replace a 2001 law giving the president power to wage war on terrorist groups in the Middle East.

The Hill's Ellen Mitchell reports:

Lee's office confirmed to The Hill that the two met on the House floor to discuss her amendment introduced late last month that would repeal the 2001 authorization for use of military force (AUMF), forcing Congress to vote on a new bill.

Lee offered the amendment to the House Appropriations defense bill. Surprisingly, both Republicans and Democrats backed Lee's argument, and the full committee approved the amendment.

GOP leadership, however, was not pleased. Ryan said the amendment was a "mistake" in an interview with Real Clear Politics in late June.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW:

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the coup attempt in Montenegro with testimony from the country's ambassador to the U.S. at 9:30 a.m. at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room G-50. http://bit.ly/2tUV721

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report at 9:30 a.m. at Dirksen 419. http://bit.ly/2sQF0Py

The full Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up the fiscal 2018 military construction and veterans affairs appropriations bill at 10:30 a.m. at Dirksen 106. http://bit.ly/2uziiga

A House Foreign Affairs subpanel will hold a hearing on the administration's fiscal 2018 budget request for the Middle East and North Africa at 1 p.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2172. http://bit.ly/2uz517j

 

ICYMI:

-- The Hill: Heritage to 'key vote' amendment on base closures

-- The Hill: Senators press for ISIS use of force bill, despite limited WH support

-- The Hill: Top House Dem floats fixes to Russia sanctions impasse

-- Associated Press: General: Plane at cruising altitude before problems, crash

-- The Washington Post: What the Islamic State is saying about its loss of Mosul

 

Please send tips and comments to Rebecca Kheel, rkheel@thehill.com, and Ellen Mitchell, emitchell@thehill.com

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