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 ClarkHouse pushes back schedule to pass spending bills Gun control group rolls out House endorsements Pelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid 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 GallagherHillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down Lawmakers introduce legislation to establish national cybersecurity director House Republican accuses Facebook, Twitter, YouTube of not doing enough to combat Chinese propaganda 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 FosterFormer Obama Ebola czar Ron Klain says White House's bad decisions have put US behind many other nations on COVID-19; Fears of virus reemergence intensify Overnight Defense: Army now willing to rename bases named after Confederates | Dems demand answers on 'unfathomable' nuke testing discussions | Pentagon confirms death of north African al Qaeda leader Top Democrats demand answers on Trump administration's 'unfathomable' consideration of nuclear testing 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 WittmanTrade groups make lobbying push to be included in small business loan program Overnight 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 MORE (R-Va.), and Joe CourtneyJoseph (Joe) D. CourtneyNavy recommends reinstating Crozier as captain of USS Theodore Roosevelt: report Overnight 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 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 MerkleyManchin draws line against repealing legislative filibuster The Hill's 12:30 Report: Supreme Court ruling marks big win for abortion rights groups Filibuster reform gains steam with Democrats 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 ShelbyFights over police reform, COVID-19 delay Senate appropriations markups Trump's push for major infrastructure bill faces GOP opposition Watchdogs express concern to lawmakers about ability to oversee coronavirus relief funds 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 GrahamThe Hill's Campaign Report: The political heavyweights in Tuesday's primary fights Harrison goes on the attack against Graham in new South Carolina Senate ad Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police MORE (R-S.C.) offered and withdrew an amendment to the Pentagon spending bill aimed at President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse panel approves 0.5B defense policy bill House panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate House panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops 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 ComeyThe Seila Law case: Liberty and political firing A new age of lies? Trump celebrates ruling on Flynn case MORE and Trump's onetime Democratic opponent, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublican Nicole Malliotakis wins New York primary to challenge Max Rose Trump's evangelical approval dips, but remains high How Obama can win back millions of Trump voters for Biden 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 MattisTrump insulted UK's May, called Germany's Merkel 'stupid' in calls: report Mattis urges people to wear masks in PSA about 'nasty little virus' Dozens of GOP ex-national security officials to form group to back Biden: report 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