Overnight Defense: GOP chairman moves ahead with $640B defense bill | Lawmakers eye 355 ship navy | Senate panel seeks answers on shoot down of Syrian jet

Overnight Defense: GOP chairman moves ahead with $640B defense bill | Lawmakers eye 355 ship navy | Senate panel seeks answers on shoot down of Syrian jet

THE TOPLINE: The House Armed Services Committee is pursing a $640 billion defense base budget in its annual policy bill, the chairman said Thursday.

"At this point, we are moving forward with a, as no surprise, to mark to $640 [billion]," Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told reporters. "I think $640 is what we need to address the problems that have developed from sequestration and that tempo of operations over the years."

The number was unsurprising, given Thornberry has advocated for $640 billion for months.


But it sets the bill up for a potential showdown with the White House, which proposed a $603 billion defense base budget.

It also could be in conflict with Congress' budget. The Budget Committee is eyeing a $621 billion defense base budget.

The Hill's Rebecca Kheel has the rest here.


HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEES MOVE FORWARD ON DEFENSE BILL: The House Armed Services subcommittees on Thursday quickly finished passing all six bills that will make up the base of the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The emerging threats and tactical air and land forces subcommittees passed their bills Wednesday, while the readiness, strategic forces, military personnel, and seapower and projection forces subcommittees passed their versions Thursday. 

Lawmakers are now a step closer to the full NDAA, which sets defense policy and priorities for the year.

Among the asks in the bill, the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee will recommend five more ships than proposed in President Trump's defense budget.

Read the rest here.

And The Hill's Rebecca Kheel has details on how the bill would limit the implementation of an arms treaty with Russia after Democrats failed to remove the provision in a subcommittee markup.


LAWMAKERS UNVEIL BILL TO SET 355-SHIP NAVY: Two Republican lawmakers on Thursday introduced legislation that would increase the U.S. Navy fleet from 274 ships to 355 ships.

Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.) and Rep. Rob Wittman (Va.) unveiled the bipartisan Securing the Homeland by Increasing our Power on the Seas (SHIPS) Act. It would set a 355-vessel fleet as U.S. policy, subject to Congress appropriating enough money.  

Wicker, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower, said the bill has 16 co-sponsors "and counting" in the upper chamber, including every member of the subcommittee. At least 10 House members have also backed the bill.

Read more here.


SENATE PANEL DEMANDS TRUMP'S LEGAL RATIONAL FOR SHOOTING DOWN SYRIAN JET: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has formally requested the Trump administration's legal justification for the U.S. military recently shooting down a Syrian jet and other confrontations with forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, a committee aide confirmed Thursday.

Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.) had promised to do so during a committee hearing this week, and the aide confirmed Thursday that Corker "followed up with a request of the State Department as he explained during the hearing."

On Sunday, the U.S. military shot down a Syrian jet it said was firing on its partnered local forces on the ground. It was the first time the United States had shot down a Syrian plane and the first time a U.S. military jet has shot down any manned aircraft since 1999.

Read more here



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