Overnight Defense: Senate poised to pass defense bill with requirement to change Confederate base names | Key senator backs Germany drawdown | Space Force chooses 'semper supra' as motto

Overnight Defense: Senate poised to pass defense bill with requirement to change Confederate base names | Key senator backs Germany drawdown | Space Force chooses 'semper supra' as motto
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Happy Wednesday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Rebecca Kheel, 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: The Senate is in the endgame for its version of the annual defense policy bill.

Senators voted 87-13 to end debate Wednesday on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), setting the bill up for its expected passage as soon as Thursday.

Ending debate on the bill also means the Senate’s NDAA is poised to pass with the requirement to rename Confederate-named military installations intact, despite President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal watchdog accuses VOA parent company of wrongdoing under Trump appointee Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list Ivanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds MORE’s repeated veto threats over the issue.

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyDespite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill GOP chairman: Defense bill to include renaming Confederate bases, but not Section 230 repeal Time to bring federal employees home for every holiday MORE (R-Mo.) had filed an amendment to the bill to remove the requirement, but he told The Hill before Wednesday’s cloture vote that he didn’t expect to get a vote on his measure.

Once the Senate passes its NDAA, it will need to go to conference with the House, which passed its version Tuesday, to work out the differences.

Amendments that did get votes: Before Wednesday’s cloture vote, the Senate voted on two NDAA amendments.

One, from Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterOvernight Defense: Trump loyalist to lead Pentagon transition | Democrats ask VA for vaccine distribution plan | Biden to get classified intel reports Senate Democrats press VA for vaccine distribution plan President is wild card as shutdown fears grow MORE (D-Mont.), was approved 94-6. The measure would expand the Department of Veterans Affairs list of medical conditions associated with exposure to Agent Orange to include bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinsonism.

Another from Sen. Bernie Sander (I-Vt.) that would have slashed the defense budget by 10 percent and redirected that money into a grant program for areas with high poverty rates failed in a 23-77 vote.

Twenty-three Democrats sided with Republicans to oppose Sanders’ amendment, but supporters argued the vote tally is a sign the winds are starting to change direction.

“Today, almost half the Senate Democratic Caucus—23 members—voted to cut Pentagon spending by 10% and invest in human needs,” Sanders tweeted. “This is far and away the most significant step in recent years to address our bloated $740 billion military budget and changing our national priorities.”

“We are going to continue building a political movement which understands that it is far more important to invest in working people, the children, the elderly, and the poor, than in spending more on the military than the next 11 nations combined,” he added in a second tweet.

INHOFE BACKS GERMANY DRAWDOWN: A briefing has convinced Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeCongress faces late-year logjam Despite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill Hillicon Valley: GOP chairman says defense bill leaves out Section 230 repeal | Senate panel advances FCC nominee | Krebs says threats to election officials 'undermining democracy' MORE (R-Okla.) that the Trump administration’s plan to move U.S. troops out of Germany is “sound.”

“After this morning’s briefing with the Department of Defense, I believe the concept for realigning U.S. military posture in Europe, as the president has approved, is sound,” Inhofe said in a statement Wednesday. “The department is doing a good job of following the guiding principles I’ve described as the ‘three Fs’— forward presence, force projection and families.”

That Inhofe, a staunch supporter of President Trump, would come around on the plan is not surprising. But many Republican defense hawks have remained in ardent opposition to the drawdown.

Lily pads? Trump has cast the shift as a response to Germany not meeting NATO’s goal of spending at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.

Inhofe, meanwhile, is describing the move as one to create “lily pads” of troops closer to NATO’s eastern flank, saying he’s “pleased that, because of President Trump’s leadership, we’re finally having an opportunity to realize this goal.”

Still, Inhofe stressed the plan must be carried out slowly to be done right. He further stressed the need to consult with NATO allies, which was not done before Trump’s announcement last month.

“It is clear to me that this concept will take months to plan and years to execute,” Inhofe said. “Rigorous planning and deliberate implementation of this concept is the best way to give our military families a measure of certainty and ensure they receive the care and support they deserve. It will also be critically important for the Department to continue to engage fully with our NATO allies on this concept.”

No Germany vote: Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyMark Kelly sworn in to Senate seat Bipartisan, bicameral group unveils 8 billion coronavirus proposal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms MORE (R-Utah) had been pushing for a vote for his NDAA amendment that sought to constrain Trump’s ability to withdraw U.S. troops from Germany.

That vote didn’t happen, so he announced Wednesday morning he would oppose cloture even though he will vote for passage of the bill.

“The administration’s proposal to withdraw U.S. troops from Germany is a matter of extreme significance to our national security, our military readiness, and our alliances,” Romney said in a statement. “A decision of such magnitude should not be made without the input of the United States Senate.”

Still, the House has in its version of the bill a provision similar to the one Romney was pushing, meaning it will be an issue when the two chambers meet to reconcile the bill.

SPACE FORCE WILL BE ‘ALWAYS ABOVE’: The U.S. Space Force’s official motto will be “semper supra,” the Latin for “always above,” the military service announced Wednesday.

The Space Force also unveiled Wednesday its official logo, a silver delta symbol with the Polaris star in the center, spires at the top representing a rocket launch and beveled elements on the edges to symbolize jointness with the other military branches.

“We are building a new Service to secure the space domain... the ultimate high ground,” Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond tweeted Wednesday. “Our strategic imperative is to ensure that our space capabilities & the advantages they provide the nation & our Joint and Coalition partners are always there. #SemperSupra!”

Flashback: The Space Force’s Wednesday announcement comes after Trump in January unveiled the service’s official seal, which has colloquially been referred to as the logo.

The seal, which also centers on a delta symbol, was mocked by some online for resembling Star Trek’s Starfleet logo, though Space Force notes the U.S. military has used the delta in emblems for space organizations since 1961.

In May, Trump also unveiled the service's official flag, which included the seal, in an Oval Office ceremony.


The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for the nominees to be ambassadors to Peru, Chile and Canada at 10 a.m. https://bit.ly/30RsO3p

The House Oversight Committee’s national security subcommittee will hold a hearing on the United States Strategy on Women, Peace and Security with testimony from officials from the departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security at 10 a.m. https://bit.ly/3eTlBVo


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