Overnight Defense: House passes $675B defense spending bill | Pentagon moving forward on Trump military parade | Mattis vows 'ironclad' support for South Korea's defense

Overnight Defense: House passes $675B defense spending bill | Pentagon moving forward on Trump military parade | Mattis vows 'ironclad' support for South Korea's defense
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Happy Thursday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Ellen Mitchell, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond.

 

TOPLINE: Lawmakers made another stride toward completing the annual defense spending bill, with the House voting Thursday to pass its $675 billion Defense Department spending legislation for fiscal 2019.

Lawmakers voted 359 to 49 to approve the bill, which would provide $606.5 billion in base discretionary funding and $68.1 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.

What the bill allocates: The House budget amount includes a 15,600 troop increase across the military, and a 2.6 percent pay raise for service members beginning in January.

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In addition, the bill would provide $9.4 billion for 93 F-35 fighter jets - 16 more jets than the administration requested and four more than Senate appropriators want – as well as $22.7 billion for 12 new Navy ships, and $145.7 billion for equipment purchases and upgrades.

What amendments made it in? House lawmakers had inserted several amendments into the bill leading up to the vote, including a provision to add $10 million to aid in bring Korea War remains from North Korea back to the United States, and a proposal to block the Pentagon from doing business with Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei.

One additional amendment to the bill was adopted directly before the final vote, Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkPelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid Democrat says House vote on trillion aid deal could fall to Friday MA lawmakers press HHS secretary on status of state's protective equipment MORE's (D-Mass.) provision to move $14 million to support Pentagon innovation.

Four other amendments were shot down, including two from Rep Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherGOP lawmaker touts bill prohibiting purchases of drugs made in China Wisconsin Republican says US must not rely on China for critical supplies We weren't ready for a pandemic — imagine a crippling cyberattack MORE (R-Wis.) -- one to increase Air Force buys of the Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) by $33 million, the other to boost Navy AMRAAM procurement by $24 million.

An amendment offered by Rep. Bill FosterGeorge (Bill) William FosterIllinois governor endorses Biden one day before primary Durbin endorses Biden: He 'can start to heal the wounds of this divided nation' Biden seeks to capitalize on Super Tuesday surprise MORE (D-Ill.) to block dollars meant to develop a space-based missile defense layer also failed.

The most anticipated amendment, a proposal to free up $1 billion to speed up buys of the Navy's Virginia-class submarine, lost big in a 144 to 267 vote. That amendment was offered by Reps. Rob WittmanRobert (Rob) Joseph WittmanOvernight Defense: 32 dead in ISIS-claimed attack in Kabul | Trump says Taliban could 'possibly' overrun Afghan government when US leaves | House poised for Iran war powers vote next week Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel The Suburban Caucus: Solutions for America's suburbs MORE (R-Va.), and Joe CourtneyJoseph (Joe) D. CourtneyOvernight Defense: Aircraft carrier captain removed from duty after pleading for help with outbreak | Trump to expand use of defense law to build ventilators | Hospital ships receiving few patients Aircraft carrier captain removed from duty after pleading for help with coronavirus outbreak Procedural politics: What just happened with the coronavirus bill? MORE (D-Conn.), the chairman and ranking member of the Armed Services seapower subcommittee, whose states house shipyards that build the subs.

On the Senate side: The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday also easily passed its $675 billion Pentagon spending bill for fiscal 2019.

The committee approved the bill 30-1, with the only no vote coming from Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenators push for changes to small business aid Overnight Energy: Oil giants meet with Trump at White House | Interior extends tenure of controversial land management chief | Oil prices tick up on hopes of Russia-Saudi deal Oil giants meet at White House amid talk of buying strategic reserves MORE (D-Ore.).

The bill would provide $607.1 billion for the Pentagon's base budget and $67.9 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) account.

"[Defense Secretary James] Mattis has warned us that failure to modernize our military risks leaving us with a force that could dominate the last war, but be irrelevant to tomorrow's security," committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyDemocratic senators call for funding for local media in coronavirus stimulus Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill Five things being discussed for a new coronavirus relief bill MORE (R-Ala.) said. "These investments I believe are needed in order for our military to maintain its technological superiority."

Russia comes up during Senate debate: Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump attacks WHO amid criticism of his coronavirus response Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill UN biodiversity chief calls for international ban of 'wet markets' MORE (R-S.C.) offered and withdrew an amendment to the Pentagon spending bill aimed at President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenators demand more details from Trump on intel watchdog firing Overnight Health Care: Trump steps up attack on WHO | Fauci says deaths could be lower than first projected | House panel warns federal stockpile of medical supplies depleted | Mnuchin, Schumer in talks over relief deal Trump says he'll look into small business loan program restricting casinos MORE's apparent acceptance of Russian denials that they meddled in the U.S. election.

"I read a tweet today. Guess from who," Graham said during a Senate Appropriations Committee markup. "I'm all willing for him to meet with Russia, see if we can find common interests, but one thing I want to make crystal clear. ... When Putin says Russia did not interfere in our election, he is lying. When he says they won't do it in the future, he is lying."

Earlier Thursday, Trump tweeted that Russia continues to deny it interfered in the 2016 presidential election and repeated his criticisms of former FBI director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyIs coronavirus the final Trump crisis? Full appeals court to rehear case over McGahn subpoena Tucker Carlson: Biden's 'fading intellect' an 'opportunity' for Democrats to control him MORE and Trump's onetime Democratic opponent, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe two infectious diseases spreading across America Former Clinton staffers invited to celebrate Sanders dropping out: report Sanders exit leaves deep disappointment on left MORE.

Graham said he withdrew the amendment because it has jurisdiction in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but pledged to bring it back up on the Senate floor if that committee does not act on it.

 

MATTIS VOWS 'IRONCLAD' COMMITMENT TO SOUTH KOREAN SECURITY: Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisMattis defends Pentagon IG removed by Trump House Armed Services chairman expresses confidence in Esper amid aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Is coronavirus the final Trump crisis? MORE told South Korea that the U.S. has an "ironclad" commitment to South Korea on Thursday as Washington and Pyongyang continue to hammer out the details of the denuclearization agreement.

"U.S. commitment to the Republic of Korea remains ironclad and the U.S. will continue to use the full range of diplomatic and military capabilities to uphold this commitment," Mattis said prior to a meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Song Young-moo in Seoul, according to Reuters.

"And this includes maintaining the current U.S. force levels on the Korean peninsula," he continued. 

Despite the canceled exercises with South Korea…: Mattis said that U.S. and South Korean forces would be "united, vigilant and ready." He added that the decision to put off its joint military drills with South Korea would make dialogue with North Korea easier. 

"The two ministers agreed to continue exploring confidence and peace-building measures as long as North Korea continues dialogue in good faith," Mattis and Song said in a joint statement. 

Background: Mattis's trip comes weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump met face-to-face in Singapore and signed an agreement committing the U.S. to unspecified security guarantees in exchange for a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

  

PENTAGON MOVING FORWARD ON TRUMP'S MILITARY PARADE: The Pentagon is moving forward on President Trump's orders to hold a military parade, recommending a route along Pennsylvania Ave. and setting a new date after months of inactivity, NBC News reported Thursday.

The parade, moved up a day from Nov. 11 to Nov. 10, would begin at the Capitol, pass the White House and end at the National Mall, officials told NBC.

A Joint Chiefs of Staff team is now drafting a planning order for U.S. Northern Command, which will organize the details using the U.S. Military District of Washington.

The Army command is in charge of major occurrences including state funerals for former presidents and inaugurations, and will be the lead in carrying out the event.  

Little enthusiasm for event: The parade is still in the beginning planning stages but no budget is set as there is reportedly little desire for the event outside the White House.

"There is only one person who wants this parade," a senior U.S. official told NBC.

Following a March memo from the Pentagon vaguely outlining the event, there has been with no real movement on the parade until this week. A senior defense official told NBC there are more pressing issues.

Even some White House officials are uninterested in the event and are stalling on planning, said a senior administration official.

How much will it cost? One major question that remains is how much the parade will cost and who will foot the bill. Officials have estimated could cost between $10 million and $30 million.

The U.S. Military District of Washington is typically reimbursed by the Pentagon for events, but no dollars have been set aside for the parade.

The Defense Department may use its training budget to pay for flyovers and use vehicles from nearby bases, but the event would also involve outside costs including pay for Secret Service and police, and the renting and construction of stands and barriers.

"The Department of Defense will provide options to the White House for a decision," a National Security Council spokesperson told NBC.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

The Wilson Center will hold a discussion on National Guard Interests in the Arctic with Adjutant Generals of the Alaska and Maine National Guards, Maj. Gen. Laurie Hummel, and Major Gen. Douglas Farnham at 10 a.m. in Washington, D.C.

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: Trump told G-7 leaders that 'NATO is as bad as NAFTA': report

-- The Hill: Senate panel advances Afghan war commander nominee

-- The Hill: Defense Department asked to house thousands of immigrants

-- The Hill: State Department confirms another American affected by mysterious health attacks in Cuba

-- The Hill: Opinion: North Korea has no intention of giving up its nukes -- and now we have proof 

-- The Hill: Opinion: A war is a crisis if no one on our side shows up

-- Defense News: Senate spending bill could slow sub-launched nuke