The Latest: Republicans decry bid to get Trump travel costs
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on deliberations by the House and Senate Armed Services committees over the 2018 defense budget (all times local):
Republicans are voicing strong opposition to a measure backed by Democrats that calls for detailed reports on the costs of President Donald Trump’s travel to properties that he and his family own.
GOP members of the House Armed Services Committee dismissed the amendment to the annual defense policy bill as “gotcha politics” and an attempt to litigate the 2016 election.
The measure, authored by Rep. Tom O’Halleran of Arizona, would require the Air Force to regularly submit presidential travel expense reports to Congress. Each report would include “costs incurred” for travel to a property owned or operated by Trump or his immediate family.
Lawmakers sparred over the measure. Rep. Mike Conaway, a Texas Republican, says the committee has no business asking for the travel costs.
He says, “We don’t oversee the federal bureau of ethics.”
A Senate panel has decided to provide an additional 4,000 visas to allow Afghans who sided with the American-led coalition and are at risk of being killed or injured by the Taliban to resettle in the United States.
The Armed Services Committee voted unanimously, 27-0, to approve a defense policy bill that includes a provision granting the extra visas for Afghans eligible for special immigrant status.
The Afghan civilians worked for the coalition as interpreters, firefighters and construction laborers. But the militants considered them traitors.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is a Democratic member of the committee who pushed for the additional visas. She says the U.S. “owes a great debt to the civilians who have provided essential assistance to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.”
The Senate Armed Services Committee has unanimously approved a defense policy bill that provides $700 billion for the military services in the 2018 fiscal year.
The plan seeks to reverse what the committee describes as a “crisis” in modernizing the armed forces with advanced weapons and support equipment.
The panel calls the defense budget that President Donald Trump sent to Congress last month a “step in the right direction,” but “insufficient to undo the damage of the last six years.” Trump made rebuilding the military services a signature promise during the presidential campaign.
The committee authorizes $10.6 billion for 94 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, two dozen more than Trump requested.
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The troops would get a 2.1 percent pay raise under the Senate plan, which is less than the House Armed Services Committee approved. Those and other differences will have to be resolved.
The House Armed Services Committee has rejected a bid to require women between the ages of 18 and 26 to register for a military draft.
An amendment to the annual defense policy bill crafted by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., would have ordered women to sign up with the Selective Service within 30 days of turning 18 – just as men are.
Committee members voted largely along party lines to shoot down the amendment, 33-28.
The panel last year approved a measure to make the draft gender neutral but it was later dropped and never became law.
Rep. Mac Thornberry, the committee chairman, says Speier’s amendment jumped the gun. He says there is a commission examining whether the Selective Service is even necessary and Congress should wait until the study is finished before deciding to expand the draft.
The Republican-led House Armed Services Committee has approved a measure declaring climate change “a direct threat to national security.”
But the measure, crafted by Rep. Jim Langevin, a Rhode Island Democrat, won GOP backing because it only requires the Pentagon to deliver a report to Congress that assesses the impact of global warming on the U.S. military.
The report would list the 10 military bases most vulnerable to the effects of rising oceans, increased flooding, wildfires and other effects.
Lawmakers voted to include Langevin’s amendment in the annual defense policy bill that still has to be considered by the full House.
Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, opposed the measure. She says there are much more serious threats facing the country.
But Rep. Madeleine Bordallo of Guam, which is home to a U.S. naval base, says: “I certainly wouldn’t want Guam to disappear.”
Two House Democrats want to require the Air Force to detail how much has been spent on trips President Donald Trump has made to his Florida estate and other properties that he and his family own.
Arizona Reps. Tom O’Halleran and Ruben Gallego plan to introduce an amendment Wednesday to the annual defense policy bill that would require the Air Force to regularly submit presidential travel expense reports to Congress. Each report would include “costs incurred” for travel to a property owned or operated by Trump or his immediate family.
As president, Trump flies on Air Force One. He’s accompanied by staff members and military aides.
The Armed Services Committee was crafting the defense bill Wednesday. The president visited Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach resort, on seven weekends this winter.