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Overnight Defense: Senate passes $700B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions

Overnight Defense: Senate passes $700B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions
© Greg Nash

THE TOPLINE: The Senate easily cleared a nearly $700 billion defense policy bill on Monday, despite a fight over amendments that slowed down the legislation. 

Senators voted 89-8 on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes roughly $640 billion in base defense spending and $60 billion in war funds. 

Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Drama surrounding Shulkin — what is the future of VA health care? Blackburn pushes back on potential Corker bid: 'I'm going to win' MORE (R-Tenn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandAmerican women will decide who wins and loses in 2018 elections Dems ponder gender politics of 2020 nominee Calls mount from Dems to give platform to Trump accusers  MORE (D-N.Y.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyGrassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees Popular bill to fight drug prices left out of budget deal Judiciary Dems want public hearings with Kushner, Trump Jr. MORE (D-Vt.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThe 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework Prison sentencing bill advances over Sessions objections Grassley ‘incensed’ by Sessions criticism of proposed sentencing reform legislation MORE (R-Utah), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyGrassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees 2020 Dem contenders travel to key primary states Mulvaney remarks on Trump budget plan spark confusion MORE (D-Ore.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulDem wins Kentucky state House seat in district Trump won by 49 points GOP's tax reform bait-and-switch will widen inequality Pentagon budget euphoria could be short-lived MORE (R-Ky.), Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDems ponder gender politics of 2020 nominee 2020 Dem contenders travel to key primary states After Florida school shooting, vows for change but no clear path forward MORE (I-Vt.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees MORE (D-Ore.) voted against the mammoth bill.

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GOP Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Pence tours Rio Grande between US and Mexico GOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures MORE (S.C.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioColbert: Students taking action on gun violence 'give me hope' Lawmakers feel pressure on guns Florida lawmaker's aide fired after claiming shooting survivors were 'actors' MORE (Fla.), as well as Democratic Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezJustice Dept intends to re-try Menendez in corruption case DACA is neither bipartisan nor in America's interest Senate DACA deal picks up GOP supporters MORE (N.J.) missed the vote.

Senators will now need to go to conference with House lawmakers to reconcile differences between their two versions of the bill. They'll then have to pass a compromise deal by the end of the year and send it to President Trump's desk.
Monday night's passage of the bill comes after lawmakers filed more than 400 amendments to the legislation. Only one, a failed effort by Paul to sunset the 2001 and 2002 war authorizations, got a vote.

The hang up, according to Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Trump set a good defense budget, but here is how to make it better MORE (R-Ariz.), stemmed around four proposals that lawmakers wanted a vote on, including a push by Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonGOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures Senate rejects Trump immigration plan Our intelligence chiefs just want to tell the truth about national security MORE (R-Ark.) to "end sequestration" and a measure from Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinAmerica’s waning commitment to the promise of the First Amendment Senate rejects Trump immigration plan What to watch for in the Senate immigration votes MORE (D-Ill.) stripping limitations on medical research funded by the Pentagon

The stalemate on amendments forced Senate leadership to start wrapping up the bill late last week and run out the Senate's clock on debate time. Senators agreed to speed up a series of final procedural votes on Monday evening.

McCain and Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Raymond ReedFBI chief: Trump hasn't specifically directed me to stop Russian meddling in midterms Live coverage: FBI director testifies to Senate Intelligence Committee Senate Dems demand answers on cost of Trump's military parade proposal MORE (D-R.I.), the top two members of the Armed Services Committee, also got a deal to tuck more than 150 non-controversial amendments into the Senate bill.

The Hill's Jordain Carney has more here.

 

MATTIS HINTS AT US MILITARY OPTIONS FOR NORTH KOREA: The United States has military options for dealing with North Korea that wouldn't put South Korea's capital of Seoul at risk, Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: First Gitmo transfer under Trump could happen 'soon' | White House says Trump has confidence in VA chief | Russia concedes 'dozens' of civilians injured in Syria clash Pentagon: First Gitmo transfer under Trump could happen 'soon' Russia concedes 'dozens' of citizens injured in clash with US forces in Syria MORE said Monday. 

“Yes there are. But I will not go into details,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.

Mattis wouldn't say any more about the military plans, but did confirm that he discussed with his South Korean counterpart the idea of introducing nuclear weapons to the Korean peninsula. He would not confirm if that was one of the options under consideration. 

He also said diplomacy and sanctions are working in pressuring Pyongyang. 

North Korea on Friday launched its second ballistic missile over Japanese airspace in a month.

Read more here

 

Mattis' comments come a day after the United States, Japan and South Korea sent fighter jets and bombers over the Korean Peninsula in a show of force.

U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps aircraft flew across the Korean Peninsula and released live weapons in a training area as part of the exercise, according to the U.S. Pacific Command.

Read about that here.

 

MORE THAN 3,000 TROOPS HEADING TO AFGHANISTAN: Mattis  on Monday also confirmed the United States will send 3,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

“It is exactly over 3,000 somewhat and frankly I haven't signed the last of the orders right now as we look at specific, small elements that are going,” Mattis told reporters. 

The extra troops would bring the total number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to more than 14,000. 

Mattis added most of the extra troops were already en route to Afghanistan or had been notified of their deployment. 

The announcement follows President Trump's South Asia strategy, announced in August, which aims to beef up U.S. forces in Afghanistan from the current 11,000 number.

Read the rest here.

 

TWO MORE NAVY OFFICIALS FIRED FOLLOWING SHIP COLLISIONS: Two more commanders from the troubled 7th Fleet have been fired, the U.S. Navy said Monday, amid investigations into two collisions that killed 17 sailors this summer.

Rear Adm. Charles Williams, commander of Task Force 70, and Capt. Jeffrey Bennett, commander of Destroyer Squadron 15, were fired by Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, the commander of the 7th Fleet, according to the Navy's statement.

Williams had tactical control of the fleet's cruisers, destroyers, Carrier Air Wing 5 and the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, while Bennett oversaw destroyers assigned to the 7th Fleet.

“Both reliefs were due to a loss of confidence in their ability to command,” the statement said.

Rear Adm. Marc Dalton, commander of Task Force 76, has taken over as commander of Task Force 70, and Capt. Jonathan Duffy, deputy commander of Destroyer Squadron 15, assumed duties as commander, the Navy added.

The Hill's Rebecca Kheel has more here

  

TRUMP CONSIDERS JULY 4TH MILITARY PARADE IN DC: President Trump on Monday told French President Emmanuel Macron he is considering having a massive military parade in Washington, D.C., on Independence Day after watching the Bastille Day celebrations on a recent trip to France.

In remarks alongside Macron during a New York trip to the United Nations, Trump marveled at the “military might” on display in Paris for Bastille Day and said seeing the parade inspired him to do something similar in the U.S.

“Because of what I witnessed, we may do something like that on July 4th in Washington down Pennsylvania [Avenue],” Trump said. “We're thinking ... of having a really great parade, to show our military strength.”

Trump also noted that the U.S. spent over $700 billion on military spending this year.

Read the rest here

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW:

Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on recent ship collisions at 9:30 a.m. at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room G-50. http://bit.ly/2juUgBy

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider the nominations of Jon Huntsman to be U.S. ambassador to Russia and Wess Mitchell to be assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs at 10 a.m. at Dirksen 419. http://bit.ly/2x4aRyZ

Top Air Force leaders, including Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, will speak at the Air Force Association's annual Air and Space Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.

 

ICYMI:

-- The Hill: GOP senator calls on China, 20 other countries to cut ties with North Korea

-- The Hill: Feinstein pushes back on Trump's North Korea policy

-- The Hill: Poll: Majority doesn't trust Trump to handle North Korea

-- The Hill: Iran's president warns US will pay 'high cost' if Trump ditches nuclear deal

-- The Hill: McCain: Military readiness 'continues to suffer'

-- The Hill: North Korea: We'll speed up nuclear plans if more sanctions imposed

-- Defense News: Air Force to scrutinize science and technology investments in yearlong review

 

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

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