OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Senate defeats Guantánamo amendment

The Topline: The Senate got to work on the Defense authorization bill on Tuesday as the legislation’s amendment process remained up in the air.

The Senate defeated an amendment that would have restricted the transfer of Guantánamo Bay detainees by a 43-55 vote. The measure needed 60 votes to pass.

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The amendment from Sens. Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissLobbying world GOP lobbyist tapped for White House legislative affairs The Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks MORE (R-Ga.) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteBottom line Bottom line Bottom Line MORE (R-N.H.) would have restored provisions to prohibit transferring detainees to the United States and made it more difficult to send them to foreign countries.

“Why would we want the most dangerous terrorists in the world to come to America when we have one of the most secure detention facilities in Guantánamo?” Ayotte said ahead of the vote. “We don’t even know where they’ll be brought.”

Sens. Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic Unity Taskforce unveils party platform recommendations Democrats awash with cash in battle for Senate The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's job approval erodes among groups that powered his 2016 victory MORE (D-N.C.), Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorCoronavirus poses risks for Trump in 2020 Tom Cotton's only Democratic rival quits race in Arkansas Medicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 MORE (D-Ark.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEx-Sen. Joe Donnelly endorses Biden Lobbying world 70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents MORE (D-Ind.) voted with Republicans for the amendment. Hagan and Pryor face a tough reelections in 2014. Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBill Maher delivers mock eulogy for Trump Hillary Clinton roasts NYT's Maureen Dowd over column CNN's Ana Navarro to host Biden roundtable on making 'Trump a one-term president' MORE (R-Ariz.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE (R-Ariz.) voted against the Chambliss-Ayotte amendment.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinInspector general independence must be a bipartisan priority in 2020 Democrats: A moment in history, use it wisely America's divide widens: Ignore it no longer MORE (D-Mich.) had eased the transfer restrictions in the Defense authorization bill that passed the committee earlier this year.

Now the fight will spill over to the conference committee; the restrictions Ayotte and Chambliss unsuccessfully tried to add to the Senate’s Defense bill were in the House’s version.

Both Ayotte and Chambliss predicted the House version would prevail in conference.

The fate of the rest of the Defense bill is still uncertain.

Republicans are unhappy that Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidMcConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill Kamala Harris to young Black women at conference: 'I want you to be ambitious' Obama calls filibuster 'Jim Crow relic,' backs new Voting Rights Act bill MORE (D-Nev.) has blocked consideration of their amendments to the Defense bill.

Senate Armed Services ranking member Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeTrump's contempt for advice and consent Senate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  Controversial Trump nominee placed in senior role after nomination hearing canceled MORE (R-Okla.) told The Hill that some progress had been made on resolving the amendment dispute — allowing for the Guantánamo votes Tuesday — but that there was still a stand-off.

Inhofe objected to Reid’s request on the floor to proceed to the sexual assault amendments Wednesday

Rubio, Tester push plan to increase military pay: Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioChina sanctioning Rubio, Cruz in retaliatory move over Hong Kong The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Negotiators signal relief bill stuck, not dead PPP application window closes after coronavirus talks deadlock  MORE (R-Fla.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - At loggerheads, Congress, White House to let jobless payout lapse Overnight Defense: Senate poised to pass defense bill with requirement to change Confederate base names | Key senator backs Germany drawdown | Space Force chooses 'semper supra' as motto Democrats call for expedited hearing for Trump's public lands nominee MORE (D-Mont.) are pushing a plan to increase military pay rates, just as the Pentagon is weighing possible cuts to housing, healthcare and education benefits for U.S. servicemembers. 

The version of the Pentagon's fiscal 2014 budget blueprint submitted to Congress in February included a 1 percent increase for military pay. 

The Rubio-Tester plan would drive up military paychecks by nearly 2 percent. 

The White House defended its proposed 1 percent pay increase in its statement of administration policy on the pending Defense authorization bill, released Monday night. 

“Passing this amendment will have a direct positive impact on our military volunteers and their families,” the Florida Republican said in the statement, issued Monday. 

But the timing of the amendment comes as Defense Department officials are considering considerable reductions to a wide range of military benefits available to U.S. servicemembers. 

Funding cuts to military base housing allowances, tuition assistance vehicles like the G.I. Bill and healthcare benefits are all on the table as the Pentagon builds its fiscal 2015 budget plan. 

The cuts are designed to partially offset the effects of the massive, across-the-board defense budget cuts under the Obama administration's sequestration plan. 

Under sequestration, the Pentagon is staring down $500 billion in mandatory spending cuts. The cuts began in March and would reduce Pentagon spending by $52 billion next year.

The department's 2015 budget plan will be the Pentagon's first spending blueprint with sequestration cuts factored in. 

Sexual assault vote expected Wednesday: Before he objected, Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) told The Hill he expected Republicans would allow the votes on military sexual assault to occur Wednesday.

If that happened, it would follow the procedure for the Guantánamo amendments, as Republicans initially objected to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) request Monday but then allowed for votes on two amendments.

Still, the GOP objection makes it unclear as to whether Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandExpanding our health force can save lives and create jobs simultaneously Sanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE’s (D-N.Y.) controversial proposal to take sexual assault cases outside the chain of command will get a vote Wednesday.

Gillibrand, who will need 60 votes for her amendment to pass, got a boost on Tuesday when Reid endorsed her measure.

The majority leader's backing gives Gillibrand 50 senators who have publicly supported her measure; Sens. Corey Booker (D-N.J.) and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.) also joined this week.

She still faces an uphill climb to reach the 60-vote threshold, however, as her amendment is opposed by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDemocratic-linked group runs ads in Kansas GOP Senate primary Trump mocked for low attendance at rally Missouri county issues travel advisory for Lake of the Ozarks after Memorial Day parties MORE (D-Mo.).

DOD ramps up cybersecurity for defense industry: The Defense Department is ramping up its efforts to protect sensitive and classified details of its next-generation weapons systems, amid the growing threat of cyber espionage. 

For the first time, the Pentagon will now require all defense contracting firms doing business with the department to install "established information security standards" on classified and unclassified computer networks. 

Weapons makers with Pentagon contracts will now also be required to report security breaches of their networks "that result in the loss of unclassified controlled technical information from these networks," according to the Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall. 

"Defense contractors throughout the department's supply chain have been targeted by cyber criminals attempting to steal unclassified technical data," Kendall said Monday. 

The cybersecurity initiative for the defense industry is a "high priority for the department" and is vital to ensuring sensitive details involving the U.S. arsenal are not compromised, he said in a statement issued by the Pentagon on Tuesday. 

"This is an essential step to ensure that this valuable information is protected. We cannot continue to give our potential adversaries the benefits in time and money they obtain by stealing this type of information," he added. 

The new cybersecurity mandates are only the latest example of the department's ongoing effort to thwart cyber espionage operations, particularly those emanating from China and its allies. 

 

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