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 ChamblissHoekstra emerges as favorite for top intelligence post Republicans say Democrats holding up disaster relief as 'Sandy payback' Ex-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances MORE (R-Ga.) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteTrump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire Key endorsements: A who's who in early states Sinema, Gallagher fastest lawmakers in charity race 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 HaganTillis trails Democratic challenger by 7 points in North Carolina poll North Carolina businessman will challenge Tillis in GOP primary Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 MORE (D-N.C.), Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (D-Ark.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyLobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries MORE (D-Ind.) voted with Republicans for the amendment. Hagan and Pryor face a tough reelections in 2014. Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcCain's family, McCain Institute to promote #ActsOfCivility in marking first anniversary of senator's death Arizona poll shows Kelly overtaking McSally 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 MORE (R-Ariz.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeArpaio considering running for former sheriff job after Trump pardon Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument Carbon tax shows new signs of life in Congress MORE (R-Ariz.) voted against the Chambliss-Ayotte amendment.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinListen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home House Democrats poised to set a dangerous precedent with president’s tax returns The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — White House to 'temporarily reinstate' Acosta's press pass after judge issues order | Graham to take over Judiciary panel | Hand recount for Florida Senate race 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 ReidHarry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again MORE (D-Nev.) has blocked consideration of their amendments to the Defense bill.

Senate Armed Services ranking member Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeDemocrats, environmentalists blast Trump rollback of endangered species protections Bottom Line Overnight Defense: Dems talk Afghanistan, nukes at Detroit debate | Senate panel advances Hyten nomination | Iranian foreign minister hit with sanctions | Senate confirms UN ambassador 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 RubioTrump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move MORE (R-Fla.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterNative American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown 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 Elizabeth GillibrandCastro qualifies for next Democratic primary debates The Hill's Morning Report - Trump searches for backstops amid recession worries 2020 Democrats react to NYPD firing of officer in Garner case: 'Finally' 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 HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary 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 McCaskillEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Ocasio-Cortez blasts NYT editor for suggesting Tlaib, Omar aren't representative of Midwest Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand 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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