Defense bill markup today – POLITICO

With Connor O’Brien, Lara Seligman and Paul McLeary IMPORTANT PROGRAMMING NOTE: Morning Defense will cease

With Connor O’Brien, Lara Seligman and Paul McLeary

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What’s in store today for defense appropriations in the House markup.

The Navy secretary pick will face tough questions in his Senate nomination hearing today.

The top American commander in Afghanistan has relinquished his command as the U.S. military shifts to a new mission.

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APPROPRIATIONS ACTION: The House Appropriations Committee will mark up the defense and homeland security spending bills for fiscal 2022 today.

Key differences: Republicans have criticized the $706 billion defense bill as not enough and contend more is needed to fund military modernization and compete with China. GOP lawmakers have also expressed opposition to a lack of provisions that would bar the administration from imprisoning Guantanamo Bay detainees in the U.S. and shuttering the military-run terrorist prison.

The GOP may also look to restore funding to develop a new sea-launched nuclear cruise missile, which Democratic appropriators elected to kill.

Read up: Bill text | Committee report | Summary | Earmarks

Plus: House appropriators want to shave $44M off Air Force’s flagship hypersonic program, via Defense News.

And: If war comes, will the U.S. Navy be prepared? via The Wall Street Journal.

WAR POWERS, TOO: The appropriations panel is also expected to wade into the debate over paring back presidential war powers. Rep. Barbara Lee plans to offer amendments to sunset the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force over eight months and repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF, according to her office.

The amendments come as lawmakers in both parties, with President Joe Biden’s support, seek to rewrite the legal framework that has governed military operations for two decades. The House already voted to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF.

Lee, the only member of the Congress to vote against the 2001 resolution after the 9/11 attacks, has managed to tack her AUMF proposals onto the defense spending bill before. But none has survived final negotiations with the Senate.

Related: Bipartisan group calls on Biden to clarify reasoning for Syria airstrikes, via The Hill.

SENATE DEMS PITCH DEFENSE CASH: A top Senate Democrat on Monday unveiled a counterproposal for a Capitol security spending package to cover National Guard and military health budget shortfalls.

The $3.7 billion bill, introduced by Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy, would send $1.8 billion to the Pentagon. The money would include $521 million to reimburse the National Guard for its monthslong deployment to the Capitol.

Another $761 million would mitigate shortfalls in military health programs and $549 million would fund protective equipment and cleaning supplies for the military services and defense agencies.

Separately, the measure would expand and streamline the Afghan special immigrant visa program and allocate $100 million in emergency aid for Afghan refugees amid the precipitous U.S. withdrawal.

The proposal is more expansive than the $1.9 billion measure passed by House Democrats in May. And it’s unlikely to attract GOP senators, who last week proposed a $633 million bill that focuses on providing emergency funding to the Guard and Capitol Police.

POLITICO’s Caitlin Emma and Nicholas Wu have the full rundown of the Senate bill.

Further reading: Bill text | Summary

Keep it ‘clean’: In the House, Armed Services ranking Republican Mike Rogers wrote on Monday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi slamming the supplemental package passed by the House and urging her to cancel August recess until a “clean” supplemental funding bill passes.

DOD CONFIRMATION HEARING TODAY: The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a confirmation hearing today at 9:30 a.m. for five top Pentagon nominees.

Expect Carlos Del Toro, Biden’s pick to be Navy secretary, to receive sharp questions about a litany of Navy shipbuilding woes, including the service’s request for just one destroyer in the fiscal 2022 budget.

The Navy also wants to retire six littoral combat ships early, an admission that the long-troubled class of ships has burned through hundreds of millions of dollars and has not yielded the promised great things.

The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence holds its Global Emerging Technology Virtual Summit featuring Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and a host of lawmakers, beginning at 8:15 a.m.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Project on Nuclear Issues kicks off its two-day summer conference featuring Charles Verdon, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration.

And the American Enterprise Institute holds a discussion with UK Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace at noon.

TROOPS TO HAITI? The White House has been quiet so far on Haiti’s request for U.S. troops to help calm the deteriorating situation in the Carribean nation. The Pentagon says it is “analyzing” the request, but a new deployment seems unlikely.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby confirmed on Monday that the U.S. delegation that flew to Haiti over the weekend does not include any Defense Department representatives.

NEW PHASE:The top U.S. general in Afghanistan stepped down on Monday, beginning a new phase in which the U.S. military will shift to fighting terrorists from the air, our colleague Lara Seligman reports.

Gen. Scott Miller officially left the country and is expected to head to Washington in the next few days to confer with Biden and other officials.

Miller’s departure means that Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, has the authority to launch airstrikes against the Taliban if needed through the end of August. After that, Central Command will focus on fighting terrorist groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS from bases outside Afghanistan.

Kirby on Monday called Miller’s departure an “important milestone” but stressed it does not signify “an end to our commitment to our Afghan partners.”

Related: It’s situation normal for U.S. diplomats in Kabul, despite Taliban gains, via The New York Times.

ON THE HOMEFRONT: Retired military and civilian Pentagon leaders are appealing to the 17 senators who served in uniform to ensure that all eligible voters submit absentee ballots, a mainstay for military personnel for decades. “Expanding and standardizing this military-proven voting model would benefit all American citizens,” they write.

They also cite the need to more effectively counter foreign influence in elections. “Legislation that protects our electoral process from foreign interference must be a top priority, regardless of party label. Our national security depends on it,” they said.

The project is spearheaded by Operation Protect Democracy, a collection of retired military leaders who expanded their efforts to strengthen American democracy following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

TINY SATELLITES: The Missile Defense Agency has launched two nanosatellites into orbit, the agency announced Monday, part of its Nanosat Testbed Initiative to use small, cheap satellites to test how the sats can communicate while in orbit.

The effort is meant to figure out how to detect and track hypersonic and ballistic missiles headed for the U.S., linking interceptors, sensors and command-and-control systems.

NEW ARMY HELO ADVANCES: The Army gave Textron’s Bell and a Sikorsky-Boeing team the final specifications for its future long-range assault aircraft competition, Defense News reports. A final design will be selected in 2022, followed by several more years of prototyping.

SUPPORTING THE NUKES: The Air Force on Monday awarded Johns Hopkins University a contract worth up to $530 million “for research and development services in support of the nuclear enterprise.” The university was also granted a $23.7 million contract to support the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program.

More intel: EU military projects face delays, leaked document shows, via POLITICO Europe’s Jacopo Barigazzi.

FIRST LOOK: Matthew Pottinger, Trump’s deputy national security adviser, today will be named head of the China Program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Pottinger was among the most hawkish China experts advising Trump and pushed the theory that the coronavirus was leaked from a Chinese lab.

In a statement, Mark Dubowitz, the think tank’s CEO, said Pottinger ”has fundamentally changed the direction of U.S.-China policy.” Former Trump national security adviser H.R. McMaster, a senior adviser at FDD, said Pottinger, a retired Marine intelligence officer, has a “deep understanding of the Indo-Pacific region and clear-eyed view of the challenge presented by the Chinese Communist Party.”

Timothy Bergreen, former staff director for the House Intelligence Committee and chief of staff to Chair Adam Schiff, has joined law firm Hogan Lovells as a partner in its government relations and public affairs practice.

F-35 closes in on new timeline for testing: Bloomberg

It’s time to ramp up F-35 production: The Heritage Foundation

Army Futures Command chief on what his team got right — and wrong — since its founding: Defense News