De­fense bill calls cli­mate change a se­cu­rity threat

San Francisco Chronicle - - NATION - By Richard Lardner

WASHINGTON — The Repub­li­can-led House de­ci­sively ap­proved a de­fense pol­icy bill on Fri­day that de­clares cli­mate change a na­tional se­cu­rity threat, de­mands rig­or­ous over­sight of the Pen­tagon’s cy­ber­op­er­a­tions and re­jects the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s bid to close mil­i­tary bases.

Law­mak­ers voted 344-81 on Fri­day to pass the sweep­ing leg­is­la­tion. The bill au­tho­rizes $696 bil­lion in de­fense spend­ing for the 2018 fis­cal year, in­clud­ing nearly $30 bil­lion more for core Pen­tagon op­er­a­tions than Pres­i­dent Trump re­quested.

Yet de­fense hawks push­ing the hard­est for the big boost in spend­ing still face an up­hill bat­tle. For the spend­ing in­creases to ma­te­ri­al­ize, Congress first will have to agree to roll back a 2011 law that set strict lim­its on mil­i­tary spend­ing. But that won’t be easy. Lift­ing the bud­get caps will face re­sis­tance from Democrats who are seek­ing to in­crease the bud­gets for other gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

The bill in­cludes a sec­tion that says global warm­ing is “a direct threat to the na­tional se­cu­rity.” It’s a po­ten­tially sur­pris­ing ad­di­tion given Trump’s pub­licly stated doubts about cli­mate change and his re­cent de­ci­sion to pull the U.S. out of the land­mark ac­cord aimed at com­bat­ting global warm­ing.

The sec­tion re­quires the Pen­tagon to de­liver a re­port to Congress de­tail­ing the im­pact of cli­mate change on the armed forces.

Over White House ob­jec­tions, the bill added a bi­par­ti­san mea­sure re­quir­ing the De­fense Depart­ment to in­form Congress within 48 hours of “any sen­si­tive mil­i­tary cy­ber op­er­a­tion.”

The bill re­jected the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­quest that the Pen­tagon be given the au­thor­ity to start a new round of mil­i­tary base clos­ings in 2021. De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis told the Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee last month that clos­ing ex­cess in­stal­la­tions would save $10 bil­lion over a five-year pe­riod.

But mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions are prized pos­ses­sions in con­gres­sional dis­tricts and law­mak­ers re­fused to go along with Trump just as they de­nied for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s bid to shut­ter fa­cil­i­ties.

Alex Bran­don / As­so­ci­ated Press

De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis (cen­ter) had sought au­thor­ity to start a new round of mil­i­tary base clos­ings in 2021, but law­mak­ers re­jected the re­quest.

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