At 2:34 AM on Thursday, April 28th, following more than 16 hours of debate on dozens of amendments, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) voted 60-2 to approve the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
HASC ranking member Adam Smith (D-WA), who noted that he had been undecided before the markup, also supported the bill. Democrats Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) were the only two “no” votes.
The bill would authorize $610.5 billion in defense spending for fiscal year 2017, even with the President’s Budget Request. However, the bill allocates $23.1 billion in war-related Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds for base budget programs.
The goal of Republican defense hawks is to eventually get more money through a supplemental appropriation after a new Congress and president is sworn in next year. This plan has been cause for concern among some Armed Services Democrats. Ranking member Smith cautioned the rearranging of war funding is “no small matter.”
The Chairman’s mark covered a lot of ground with a wide range of priorities. Some of the issues brought into focus, included readiness, health care reform, acquisition reform, foreign military sales, selective service, a third offset strategy, increasing the size of the force, the joint strike fighter shortfall, cybersecurity, bombers, the A-10, airlift and tankers, the nuclear force, Syria, Guantanamo Bay, counterterrorism, Russia, Ukraine, and ISIL. For NDAA bill summary, please go to: http://docs.house.gov/meetings/AS/AS00/20160427/104832/HMKP-114-AS00-20160427-SD001.pdf
Some of the highlights from the markup include:
- By a vote of 32-30, the committee narrowly adopted an amendment from Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) that would require women to register with Selective Service. Hunter didn’t vote in favor of his own amendment, but six Republicans joined with almost all the panel’s Democrats to support the proposal.
- As one of the last amendments of the day, the committee adopted by voice vote an amendment from Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) to permit the United Launch Alliance (ULA) to obtain 18 RD-180 rocket engines for competitive launches.
ULA and Pentagon officials say they need 18 RD-180 engines in order to “bridge the gap” for national security launches before a U.S.-made alternative is developed and certified.
- HASC also adopted a measure from Smith to authorize $100 million to develop a new launch vehicle, in addition to a new U.S.-made RD-180 replacement.
- HASC rejected a number of Democratic amendments in relation to the U.S. nuclear modernization efforts. A proposal from Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) was defeated that would have cut $317 million in nuclear weapons spending. Another amendment from Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) was defeated by a vote of 26-36, that would have required the Congressional Budget Office to provide a 30-year cost estimate for fielding and maintaining the nation’s nuclear stockpile.
- The panel once again defeated an amendment from Smith to roll back limitations on closing the U.S military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and transferring the detainees to the U.S.
- By a vote of 34-28, the committee adopted a proposal from Rep. John Kline (R-MN) that would exempt the DOD and the National Nuclear Security Administration from an executive order requiring prospective contractors to disclose labor law violations to the government.
- HASC also defeated, 20-41, a proposal from Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) to separate the F-35 program’s next block of software into its own separate acquisition program.