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