Overnight Defense: Details on House defense bill | Bill won't make military sexual harassment a standalone crime | Lawmakers look to improve military housing | Bill blocks early retirement of aircraft carrier

Overnight Defense: Details on House defense bill | Bill won't make military sexual harassment a standalone crime | Lawmakers look to improve military housing | Bill blocks early retirement of aircraft carrier

Happy Monday 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. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

 

THE TOPLINE: Ahead of the House Armed Services Committee's Tuesday markups for the fiscal 2020 defense spending bill, the panel gave journalists a peak into their plans for the bill.

Committee staff provided some interesting details, including news that the bill won't include a Pentagon request to make sexual harassment a stand-alone crime in the military justice system.

The request came too late for the committee to include it in the annual defense policy bill, committee staff said Monday.

ADVERTISEMENT

"We got the request a little for our process," a committee staffer told reporters. "If something comes later on, then we'll look at it as it happens."

 

The background: The Pentagon in May asked Congress to make sexual harassment a stand-alone crime in the Uniform Code of Military Justice as part of list of recommendations from the Sexual Assault Accountability and Investigation Task Force created at the urging of Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyHispanic Caucus seeks to retain voice in House leadership Nikki Haley blasts Roy Moore's Senate bid: 'He does not represent our Republican Party' McSally on Moore running for Senate again: 'This place has enough creepy old men' MORE (R-Ariz.), who recently disclosed she was raped by a superior officer while serving in the Air Force.

The Senate's version of the defense policy bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes the requested provision.

 

The House path: While the House Armed Services Committee's version does not, the panel's personnel subcommittee includes several other provisions aimed at tackling sexual assault, staffers said Monday.

Those include expanding special victim's counsel to domestic violence victims and increasing criminal investigators in an effort to reduce the duration of investigations, according to staffers..

Asked about taking the decision to prosecute sexual assault away from military commanders or studying that possibility -- a step supported by some lawmakers and advocates -- a staffer said it's "not in the subcommittee" legislation.

 

On military housing: Outside of sexual assault, the personnel's subcommittee portion of the NDAA tackles the heated issue of military housing.

A 2018 Reuters investigation, followed by a series of congressional hearings, unveiled instances of black mold, rodent infestation and collapsing ceilings in military housing, prompting bipartisan outrage.

To address the issue, the NDAA would require the military to look at mold mitigations and prevention standards. The bill would also require an evaluation of a rating scale for housing based on health hazards and safety.

 

Blocking an early retirement: The bill would also block funding for the Navy to go below 11 aircraft carriers after the Trump administration flirted with retiring a carrier early.

"That really just reiterates current law that you need to maintain 11 carriers and [the] Truman [aircraft carrier] will be part of that," a committee staffer told reporters Monday.

In its initial budget request for fiscal 2020, the Trump administration proposed retiring the USS Harry S. Truman early so that money meant for a costly refueling of the nuclear-powered carrier could instead be used to fund new technologies such as drone ships.

But the proposal elicited fierce bipartisan backlash, and lawmakers were expected to ignore it.

On Monday, House Armed Services Committee staffers confirmed the seapower subcommittee's portion of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes money to refuel the Truman.

In late April while visiting the Truman, Vice President Pence announced the administration was reversing course and scrapping its plans to retire the carrier.

 

Stopping low-yield nuke deployment: The bill also seeks to prohibit funding to deploy low-yield nuclear warheads.

The inclusion of the provision is unsurprising, given that Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithTexas Republican: Migrant conditions in his state the 'worst' he's seen Trump: Border deal with Democrats 'probably won't happen' Armed Services committee chair: Democrats don't trust Trump to implement 'humane' immigration policy MORE (D-Wash.) has said he wants to "kill" the low-yield warhead.

But it is the first concrete example of Smith working to fulfill his goal of curtailing the U.S. nuclear arsenal since he became chairman this year.

And it portends a partisan fight as the committee considers the bill, starting with the strategic forces subcommittee's markup on Tuesday.

A spokesman for Republicans on the committee said Rep. Mike TurnerMichael Ray TurnerHouse defense bill sets stage for contentious nuclear debate Overnight Defense: Officials approved sending Saudis nuclear technology after Khashoggi killing | Space Command pick warns of challenges ahead | Lawmakers clash over bill blocking low-yield nukes House panel members butt heads over bill blocking low-yield nukes MORE (R-Ohio), the subcommittee's ranking member, and Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryUS officials express optimism negotiations with Iran possible GOP rep: 'This story is not over' if Iran continues 'aggressive' and 'provocative' behavior Overnight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One MORE (R-Texas), the full committee's ranking member, "fundamentally disagree" with provisions in the subcommittee's portion of the bill.

The Trump administration proposed the low-yield warhead, known as the W76-2, as part of its Nuclear Posture Review. The National Nuclear Security Administration is expected to finish production of the warhead this year, but the Pentagon still needs money to deploy them.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

The House Armed Services Committee will have five open markups of the National Defense Authorization:

-- Markup for the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities at 11 a.m. in Rayburn House Office Building, room 2118 

-- Markup for the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces at 12 p.m. in Rayburn 2212. 

-- Markup for the Subcommittee on Personnel at 1 p.m. at Rayburn 2118. 

-- Markup for Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces at 2:30 p.m. in Rayburn 2212. 

-- Markup for Subcommittee on Strategic Forces at 3:30 p.m. in Rayburn 2118.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff would support impeachment if White House ignores a final court decision on documents, testimony US finds itself isolated in Iran conflict House Intelligence Committee to subpoena Trump associate Felix Sater MORE (D-Calif.), will speak on foreign policy and national security challenges facing the United States at 8:30 a.m. at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C. 

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations of Air Force Gen. John Raymond to be U.S. Space Commander and Air Force Space Commander and Christopher Scolese to be director of the National Reconnaissance Office at 9:30 a.m. in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room G-50. 

Defense Security Cooperation Agency Director Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper will speak at a Brooking Institution discussion on "How security cooperation advances U.S. interests," at 10 a.m. in Washington, D.C. 

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: US aircraft carrier yet to enter Persian Gulf amid tensions with Iran: report

-- The Hill: Trump: Russia says it has removed 'most of their people' from Venezuela

-- The Hill: Trump accuses Russia, Syria, Iran of 'bombing the hell' out of Idlib province

-- The Hill: Chinese defense minister warns US not to interfere in regional security disputes

-- The Hill: Pompeo: US ready for unconditional talks with Iran

-- The Hill: Pentagon chief: Restoring drills with South Korea not necessary

-- The Hill: US envoy to Afghanistan to meet with Taliban for peace talks

-- The Hill: Trump defense chief says US won't 'tiptoe' around Chinese behavior in Asia

-- The Hill: Navy says it was asked to 'minimize visibility' of USS McCain for Trump visit

-- The Hill: Opinion: It's tempting to look away from Syria, but that'd be reckless

-- The Hill: Opinion: 'Ike's Soldiers' -- Remember D-Day, those who served, and why