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 ClarkThe Hill's Morning Report - Fallout from day one of Trump impeachment hearing 'Squad' members recruit Raskin to run for Oversight gavel House passes third bill aimed at preventing foreign election interference 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 GallagherImpeachment surprise: Bills Congress could actually pass in 2020 Statesmen seek bipartisan solutions to big challenges Colorado rep planning sunrise run to possible sites for military memorial 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 FosterScientists join Democrats in panning EPA's 'secret science' rule Omar knocks Republicans for appearing to bring phones into highly-classified SCIF room Mass shootings have hit 158 House districts so far this year 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 WittmanThe Suburban Caucus: Solutions for America's suburbs Overnight Defense: Top general briefs GOP senators on Syria plan | Senators 'encouraged' by briefing | Pence huddles with Republican allies on Syria | Trump nominee sidesteps questions on arms treaties Virginia Port: Gateway to the economic growth MORE (R-Va.), and Joe CourtneyJoseph (Joe) D. CourtneyHouse passes bill tackling workplace violence in health care, social services sectors This week: Round 2 of House impeachment inquiry hearings State dinner highlights the enduring importance of US-Australia alliance 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 MerkleyMcConnell says he's 'honored' to be WholeFoods Magazine's 2019 'Person of the Year' Overnight Energy: Protesters plan Black Friday climate strike | 'Father of EPA' dies | Democrats push EPA to abandon methane rollback Warren bill would revoke Medals of Honor for Wounded Knee massacre 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 ShelbyLawmakers strike spending deal to avert shutdown McConnell accuses Democrats of stonewalling funding talks with wall demands  On The Money: Pelosi, Trump tout deal on new NAFTA | McConnell says no trade vote until impeachment trial wraps up | Lawmakers push spending deadline to Thursday 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: 'I wouldn't mind' a long Senate impeachment process Poll finds Graham with just 2-point lead on Democratic challenger Hill editor-in-chief calls IG report 'a game-changer' MORE (R-S.C.) offered and withdrew an amendment to the Pentagon spending bill aimed at President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed 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 Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by UANI — Judiciary Democrats approve articles of impeachment setting up House vote next week Huckabee teases Hannity appearance, says he'll explain why Trump is eligible for third term Five takeaways on Horowitz's testimony on Capitol Hill MORE and Trump's onetime Democratic opponent, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMore than 200,000 Wisconsin voters will be removed from the rolls Trump is threatening to boycott the debates — here's how to make sure he shows up Trey Gowdy returns to Fox News as contributor 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 MattisOvernight Defense: Mattis downplays Afghanistan papers | 'We probably weren't that good at' nation building | Judiciary panel approves two impeachment articles | Stage set for House vote next week James Mattis: Afghanistan papers not 'revelatory' Overnight Defense: Watchdog to audit company's border wall contract | Pentagon to step up vetting of foreign students after Pensacola | Report finds former defense official sexually harassed staffers 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

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-- 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