WASHINGTON — The House easily passed its $576 billion defense appropriations bill on Thursday, 282-138—a bill which shorts wartime funding to pay for more troops and military hardware, a gambit to get a supplemental spending request from the next presidential administration.
The bill, which is $587 million below President Barack Obama's request, shifts $16 billion from the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account toward base-budget needs—on par with the annual defense policy bill, which only authorizes the war budget through April 30, 2017. The policy bill passed the House last month, 277-147.
“This bill fulfills the Congress’s most important responsibility – providing for the common defense. And it does so responsibly – funding those military needs that must be addressed now, planning and preparing for the future, and respecting the taxpayer by making common-sense budgeting decisions,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky.
The House considered 108 amendments, among them a rare vote on the politically unpopular Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke offered an amendment to remove the bill's ban on funding a BRAC round, but it went down 263-157.
“The authority being used today was written in 2001, and the world has changed,” Lee said. “I do think it is our responsibility to balance the powers of the executive and have that fulsome debate."
Several other amendments aimed at restricting prisoner transfers from the US military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, passed the House. Republicans in both chambers have consistently inserted provisions in defense policy and spending bills to thwart the president's goal of shuttering Guantanamo.
Here are a handful of other amendments and whether they made it onto the bill:
YES. Montana Republican Ryan Zinke's amendment to add $80 million toward a competition to replace the venerable UH-1N Huey helicopters, which guard nuclear missile fields.
YES. Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin's amendment to add roughly $29.8 million for the Navy to develop laser weapons and an electromagnetic rail gun.
YES. Michigan Republican Tim Walberg's amendment to cut off funding for the Pentagon to spend on Afghanistan infrastructure projects.
NO. Alabama Republican Mike Rogers amendment to add funding for directed energy and other research and development at the Missile Defense Agency.
NO. Illinois Democrat Mike Quigley's amendment to cut $75.8 million from the Long Range Standoff Weapon program, a next-generation nuclear cruise missile capability. The weapon is being discussed to arm the Long Range Strike Bomber, the planned replacement for the B-2.
NO. Texas Republican Ted Poe's amendment to cut aid to Pakistan from $900 million to $700 million. Proponents decried links between Pakistan's intelligence community and the Taliban.
NO. Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie's amendment to bar warrantless searches of government databases for the communications of U.S. persons and bar government agencies from mandating data security vulnerabilities in products or services for surveillance purposes.NO.