Overnight Defense: House debates defense bill | Rejects base closures in 2018 | Plan for military space branch survives hurdle | Navy nominee advances in Senate

Overnight Defense: House debates defense bill | Rejects base closures in 2018 | Plan for military space branch survives hurdle | Navy nominee advances in Senate
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THE TOPLINE: The House resumed debate Thursday on the annual defense policy bill, with a host of surprises on amendments regarding transgender service members and climate change.

The House voted Thursday against banning the Pentagon from providing transition-related medical care to transgender troops, rejecting an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The 209-214 largely party-line vote included 24 Republicans joining with Democrats to defeat the amendment.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler's (R-Mo.) amendment would have barred Pentagon funding from going to any transition-related medical care, except for mental health services.

Outraged Democrats called it ignorant, mean-spirited and denigrating, while Republicans argued the Pentagon should not be spending its money on such medical care.

The Hill's Rebecca Kheel has more here.


The House also defeated an NDAA amendment that would have blocked a Pentagon study into the impacts of climate change on national security.

The amendment, from Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), would have stripped a bill provision that would have required a study into the 20-year impacts of climate change on the military.

Perry said his amendment was not meant to debate the existence of climate change, but rather, "my point is that this should not be the priority" for the military.

The Hill's Devin Henry has the rest here.


HOUSE REJECTS ATTEMPT FOR BASE CLOSURES IN 2018: The House on Thursday also voted down a defense policy bill provision that would have taken out language preventing a new round of base closures. 

Lawmakers voted 175-248 to reject the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) amendment, offered by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). 

The amendment would have removed an NDAA provision barring a new BRAC round, a roadblock included in the bill for several years.

The vote goes against the White House desire to close billions of dollars' worth of unused or underused military facilities in 2018.

Read the rest here.


TRUMP NAVY SEC NOMINEE ADVANCES IN SENATE: The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday approved investment banker and former Marine Corps pilot Richard V. Spencer to serve as the top civilian official in the Navy.

Lawmakers approved Spencer in a voice vote, sending his nomination for Navy secretary to the full Senate, according to a statement from the committee.

Spencer - who currently heads private Wyoming-based consulting firm Fall Creek Management LLC - is expected to easily win confirmation after a majority of senators on Tuesday praised his background during his confirmation hearing.

Read more here.


AND PLANS FOR MILITARY SPACE BRANCH SURVIVES HOUSE HURDLE: The House's plan to create a military branch dedicated to space survived a challenge late Wednesday when the Rules Committee did not allow an amendment to move forward that would have pumped the brakes on the plan.

The debate over the creation of the Space Corps has become heated, with opponents pointing to concerns from Pentagon leaders, and proponents arguing bureaucracies such as the Pentagon are too resistant to change.

The NDAA would create a Space Corps to protect U.S. interests in space; deter aggression in, from and through space; provide combat-ready space forces; organize, train and equip space forces; and conduct space operations.

The new service would be housed under the Air Force, similar to how the Marines fall under the Navy.

Read more here.



The Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute will host a discussion with Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, commander of the Air Force Materiel Command, at 8:00 a.m at the Capitol Hill Club. 



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