Overnight Defense: $717B defense policy bill speeding toward finish line | Trump threatens Turkey with sanctions over American pastor | Senators offer bills to defend NATO ties

Overnight Defense: $717B defense policy bill speeding toward finish line | Trump threatens Turkey with sanctions over American pastor | Senators offer bills to defend NATO ties
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THE TOPLINE: The annual defense policy bill is speeding toward the finish line, getting easy passage in the House on Thursday.

The House passed the $717 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in a 359-54 vote.

"This bill takes a major step forward in rebuilding our military, reforming the Pentagon and better preparing this country to deal with the national security challenges which lay before us," House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryOvernight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants Trump defends using DOD funds on border wall: 'Some of the generals think that this is more important' Overnight Defense: Trump to sign funding deal, declare national emergency | Shanahan says allies will be consulted on Afghanistan | Dem demands Khashoggi documents MORE (R-Texas) said on the House floor.

What's in and what's not: We've written about the highlights before, but to recap:

The NDAA would authorize about $639 billion for the base budget of the Pentagon and defense programs of the Energy Department. It would also allow for another $69 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.

The bill follows with the administration's request for a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops, an increase of about 15,600 troops across the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, and 77 F-35 fighter jets. On ships, the bill exceeds the administration's request, for a total 13 new ships.

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What would have been the most controversial provision of the bill was jettisoned during House-Senate negotiations to reconcile each chamber's version. That's the provision from the initial Senate-passed version blocking President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE's deal to save Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE.

Instead, the final bill aligns with the initial House-passed version and would ban the government from contracting with ZTE and Huawei, another Chinese telecommunications company, or companies that do business with those two.

Also dropped from the final bill was a House-passed provision that would have blocked endangered species protections for the greater sage grouse and the lesser prairie chicken for 10 years.

One closely watched provision that did make it into the final bill was Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Overnight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants Top US general: Trump wrong on Syria pullout, ISIS defeat MORE's request for an ability to waive sanctions on partner countries that have bought Russian arms in the past but want to now buy U.S. weapons.

Mattis did not win a separate fight with Congress over provisions in the bill on Turkey. The final bill would block transfers of the F-35 to Ankara until the Pentagon completes an assessment of U.S.-Turkish relations.

What's next: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Green New Deal Resolution invites big picture governing ‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire MORE teed up the bill Thursday for debate in the Senate next week.

The quick House-Senate negotiations and passage are keeping it on track to become law before the start of the fiscal year for the first time since fiscal 1997.

 

TURKEY SANCTIONS OVER PASTOR?: Trump and Vice President Pence on Thursday threatened Turkey with sanctions over the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson.

"The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being," Trump tweeted Thursday. "He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!"

That followed Pence's comments to a conference on religious freedom.

"And to President Erdoğan and the Turkish government, I have a message on behalf of the president of the United States of America: Release pastor Andrew Brunson now, or be prepared to face the consequences," Pence said.

Brunson was released from prison Wednesday, but was placed under House arrest. The Trump administration wants him released altogether.

But … : The Treasury Department, which administers financial sanctions, has not announced new penalties for Turkey over Brunson's detainment. Trump did not specify when further sanctions on Turkey would be imposed or announced.

Who is Brunson?: Brunson worked in Turkey for 23 years as a pastor before he was detained more than a year ago for an alleged connection to a failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayipp Erdoğan in 2016.

Brunson was accused of aiding the opposition Kurdistan Workers' Party and working with Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic cleric who Erdogan claims orchestrated the failed coup.

Turkey's response: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu indicated the sanctions threats won't work.

"Noone [sic] dictates Turkey. We will never tolerate threats from anybody. Rule of law is for everyone; no exception," he tweeted.

 

NATO BILLS: A bipartisan pair of a California lawmakers are out with a bill meant to signal U.S. support to NATO following President Trump's rocky appearance in Brussels earlier this month.

House Armed Services Committee member Jimmy PanettaJames Varni PanettaBipartisan House group introduces bills to stall Syria, South Korea troop withdrawals House passes bill expressing support for NATO This week: Congress heading in opposite directions on shutdown plans MORE (D) on Thursday introduced the No NATO Withdrawal Act -- cosponsored by Republican Rep. Steve Knight -- to "reassert Congressional support" for the alliance.

"The NATO alliance is a pillar of international peace, stability, and security, and serves as a deterrent against aggression and destabilization," Panetta said in a statement.

"In the face of Russia's threats and attacks on American and allied interests, Congress must take a stand and solidify our commitment to our allies."

The bill would specifically prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to withdraw the United States from NATO.

Meanwhile in the Senate: A bipartisan quartet in the Senate introduced their own bill Thursday to explicitly prohibit the president from withdrawing from NATO without Senate approval.

Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants Kaine asks Shanahan if military families would be hurt by moving .6B for border wall Clinton on GOP promoting Trump 'stronger together' quote: Now copy my policies too MORE (D-Va.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerBipartisan Senators reintroduce legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia Dems seeking path to Senate majority zero-in on Sun Belt Lawmakers eager for 5G breakthrough MORE (R-Colo.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedPapering over climate change impacts is indefensible Why Democrats are pushing for a new nuclear policy GOP chairman: US military may have to intervene in Venezuela if Russia does MORE (D-R.I.), and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech Mark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers wait for Trump's next move on border deal MORE (R-Ariz.) introduced the bill that requires the president to seek the advice and consent of the Senate to modify or terminate U.S. membership in NATO and formalizes the Senate's opposition to withdrawing from the treaty.

If the president attempted to withdraw from NATO without Senate approval, the bill would also authorize the Senate Legal Counsel to challenge the administration in court.

"Regrettably, President Trump's mistreatment of our closest allies has raised doubts about America's commitment to the transatlantic alliance and the values of defense," McCain said in a statement. "The United States Senate provided its advice and consent to the North Atlantic Treaty, and remains overwhelmingly supportive of the transatlantic alliance. In the future, the Senate must be prepared to defend its constitutional role."

Why: Trump, who has long demanded that NATO countries pay more for defense, earlier this month rattled the NATO summit in Brussels when he raised concerns the U.S. would withdraw from the transatlantic alliance it helped create.

He reportedly told a closed-door meeting the United States would "go it alone" if alliance members don't acquiesce to his spending demands.

Allies agreed in 2014 to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic products on defense by 2024. Trump floating raising the goal to 4 percent.

 

ICYMI

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