The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee approved a $625 billion defense authorization measure for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, matching the amount requested by President Barack Obama’s administration.
The panel approved the measure yesterday, 23-3, sending it to the Senate floor.
The bill wouldn’t provide funds for an East Coast missile-defense site to supplement those in Alaska and California, according to Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who heads the committee. House lawmakers have pushed for the added location, saying it’s needed to defend against an attack by Iran. Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, has urged that interceptors be located in his state.
The bill would authorize the four Littoral Combat Ships requested by the Navy, two from a group led by Lockheed Martin Corp. and two from a team led by Austal Ltd.
It also approves the Pentagon’s request for 29 F-35 jets made by Lockheed. Both programs also were included in the comparable measure that’s now being debated on the House floor.
The Senate committee didn’t authorize funds for continued upgrades of the M1A2 tank that General Dynamics Corp. performs in Ohio, according to the Levin.
The House Armed Services Committee approved $168 million for the upgrades, which the Pentagon says aren’t needed. The push for the money in the House was led by Representative Michael Turner, an Ohio Republican.
On June 12, Levin’s committee rejected a proposal to remove prosecution of sex-assault cases and other major crimes from the military chain of command, siding with Pentagon officials over victims’ groups.
Rejecting a proposal by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, to turn over such cases to independent military prosecutors, the committee instead adopted an alternative by Levin. It would require a high-level review whenever a commanding officer decides against pursuing prosecution of sex-assault allegations.
The Senate committee plans to release details of its measure today. Levin didn’t predict when the full Senate will take up the bill.