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 CorkerPoll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it Ford opens door to testifying next week Police arrest nearly two dozen Kavanaugh protesters MORE (R-Tenn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandTeen girls pen open letter supporting Kavanaugh accuser: We imagine you at that party and 'see ourselves' Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — GOP again has momentum on Kavanaugh rollercoaster MORE (D-N.Y.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDem senator praises Ford opening the door to testifying Ford opens door to testifying next week Senate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh MORE (D-Vt.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeKavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week Reexamining presidential power over national monuments Utah group complains Mia Love should face criminal penalties for improper fundraising MORE (R-Utah), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: Warren bill would force companies to disclose climate impacts | Green group backs Gillum in Florida gov race | Feds to open refuge near former nuke site Warren wants companies to disclose more about climate change impacts DHS transferred about 0M from separate agencies to ICE this year: report MORE (D-Ore.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulConservatives left frustrated as Congress passes big spending bills Senate approves 4B spending bill Some employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report MORE (R-Ky.), Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate Ben & Jerry’s co-founders announce effort to help 7 Dem House challengers Dems look to Gillum, Abrams for pathway to victory in tough states MORE (I-Vt.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: NYT says Rosenstein wanted to wear wire on Trump | Twitter bug shared some private messages | Vendor put remote-access software on voting machines | Paypal cuts ties with Infowars | Google warned senators about foreign hacks Overnight Health Care: Opioids package nears finish line | Measure to help drug companies draws ire | Maryland ObamaCare rates to drop Google says senators' Gmail accounts targeted by foreign hackers MORE (D-Ore.) voted against the mammoth bill.

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GOP Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Kim, Moon toss ball to Trump in ‘last, best chance’ for Korean peace GOP senator: Kavanaugh accuser 'moving the goalposts' MORE (S.C.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioNikki Haley: New York Times ‘knew the facts’ about curtains and still released story March For Our Lives founder leaves group, says he regrets trying to 'embarrass' Rubio Rubio unloads on Turkish chef for 'feasting' Venezuela's Maduro: 'I got pissed' MORE (Fla.), as well as Democratic Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints Dem senators introduce resolution calling on Trump to stop attacking the press Booming economy has Trump taking a well-deserved victory lap 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 McCainTrump hits McCain on ObamaCare vote GOP, White House start playing midterm blame game Arizona race becomes Senate GOP’s ‘firewall’ MORE (R-Ariz.), stemmed around four proposals that lawmakers wanted a vote on, including a push by Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonSprint/T-Mobile deal must not allow China to threaten US security GOP senators condemn 'vulgar' messages directed at Collins over Kavanaugh GOP turns its fire on Google MORE (R-Ark.) to "end sequestration" and a measure from Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGrassley to administration: You must consult Congress on refugee cap Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan group wants to lift Medicaid restriction on substance abuse treatment 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) Francis ReedNew York Times: Trump mulling whether to replace Mattis after midterms Overnight Defense: Biden honors McCain at Phoenix memorial service | US considers sending captured ISIS fighters to Gitmo and Iraq | Senators press Trump on ending Yemen civil war Senators press Trump administration on Yemen civil war 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: Trump identifies first soldier remains from North Korea | New cyber strategy lets US go on offense | Army chief downplays talk of 'Fort Trump' Pompeo backed continued US support in Yemen war over objections from staff: report Stand with veterans instead of predatory for-profit colleges 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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