- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 13, 2019

The House Armed Services Committee has approved its version of a $733 billion defense authorization bill that challenges a handful of President Trump’s top priorities.

The budget was voted on Thursday morning, concluding a marathon markup session of the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act.

After more than 20 hours of discussion about the legislation to fund the military, the bill passed by a 33-24 margin mostly along party lines, with Reps. Elise Stefanik and Don Bacon being the only Republicans to vote in favor of the bill.

“Thank you, @RepStefanik and @RepDonBacon for your leadership and commitment to our men and women in uniform. We look forward to working with you, and all our colleagues in the House to pass this bill on the floor,” the committee Democrats’ tweeted at the conclusion of the session.

Although the bill saw a glimmer of Republican support on the committee, the bill could face challenges garnering GOP approval when it hits the Democratic-held House floor in the coming weeks.

The most hotly contested topics included the topline figures, and spending on the nuclear arsenal and Guantanamo Bay, which committee Ranking Member Mac Thornberry told reporters at the conclusion of the meeting were two “negatives that outweighed positives in the bill,” The Hill reported.

Earlier this week, the Texas Republican rallied GOP support for an amendment to the bill to increase the budget by $17 billion to hit a topline figure of $750 figure, which would be in line with the blueprint submitted Wednesday by the GOP-led Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Thornberry has long pushed for a 3% to 5% increase to the defense budget, citing testimonies of acting Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, who have said that the military requires the funding increases to deter threats posed by Russia and China and improve military readiness.

The legislation, which was the last amendment to be voted on as the sun rose Thursday morning, was defeated by a 27-30 vote.

Over the course of the session, members went head-to-head over a range of contentious topics, including how to address sexual assault at military academies, giving lawmakers veto power over Air Force One’s paint job, and funding levels for the modernization of the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

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