Democrats push hot but­tons on Pen­tagon

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - — Carlo Muñoz

From global warm­ing to draft­ing women, House law­mak­ers tack­led a se­ries of con­tro­ver­sial sub­jects as they pulled to­gether their Pen­tagon spend­ing plan for the com­ing fis­cal year.

The marathon markup ses­sion Wed­nes­day by the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee is the first op­por­tu­nity Congress has to make their leg­isla­tive mark on Pres­i­dent Trump’s pro­posed bud­get hike for the De­fense Depart­ment.

Rep. Mac Thorn­berry, Texas Repub­li­can and the panel chair­man, is call­ing for early $37 bil­lion ad­di­tional funds above the $603 bil­lion called for in the Trump pro­posal.

De­bate over de­fense spend­ing on Capi­tol Hill comes as con­ser­va­tive groups in Wash­ing­ton crit­i­cized Mr. Trump’s de­fense plan as not do­ing enough to en­sure the mil­i­tary has what it needs to win the wars of to­mor­row.

But Wed­nes­day’s hear­ing was not strictly about dol­lars and cents. Democrats on the House de­fense panel used the markup to push amend­ments on sev­eral hot but­ton is­sues.

One amend­ment, in­tro­duced by Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat Rep. Jackie Speier, would re­quire all mil­i­tary-aged fe­male cit­i­zens to reg­is­ter for a pos­si­ble draft as men must do. The U.S. has not had a mil­i­tary draft since the Viet­nam War.

An­other Demo­cratic amend­ment man­dates an ac­count­abil­ity re­view by U.S. spe­cial op­er­a­tions com­mand and the head of the Pen­tagon’s spe­cial op­er­a­tions directorate amid re­ports of heavy drug abuse within the SEALs and other spe­cial op­er­a­tions teams. Re­cent re­ports claim il­licit drug use — such as co­caine, metham­phetamine, heroin, mar­i­juana, Ec­stasy — have been on the rise among the SEAL teams.

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