Senate Sends Trump a Defense Authorization That Could Rein In His Parade

Measure boosts troop size, adds to arsenal, bans the Pentagon from sapping deployable forces for parade

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has managed the defense authorization bill this year. The measure is on its way to the president for his signature earlier than usual. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate on Wednesday adopted the conference report for the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill, sending the massive Pentagon policy bill to the White House one day earlier than expected.

The measure easily cleared the Senate on a 87-10 vote, marking the 58th straight year that Congress has passed the Pentagon policy bill.

The bill’s passage comes one day earlier than expected, as Republican Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, who is managing the bill, had previously said the bill would get a vote Thursday.

The Senate is forgoing its regularly scheduled August recess in order to pass spending bills and to approve presidential nominees. So clearing the conference report ahead of schedule allows the Senate to move on to those more contentious issues. It also frees up the Thursday schedule for Senators who may be focused on returning to their states to hit the campaign trail ahead of November’s midterm elections.

The next stop for the legislation will be the White House, and the bill will allow both President Donald Trump and lawmakers with military-minded constituents to boast about rebuilding the military.

The $708 billion authorization measure adds 15,600 active-duty troops and authorizes the 2.6 percent pay raise for uniformed personnel.

The bill also enlarges the U.S. arsenal by approving 77 additional F-35 fighter jets, 13 new warships and a new nuclear warhead that can be launched from submarines.

Boosting the size of the military will allow Trump to claim victory on his campaign promise to do so. Trump plans to celebrate America’s military strength later this year in a military parade through the streets of Washington, D.C. The conference report, though, ensures that such a parade will be limited in scope as it bans the Pentagon from using operational forces in the parade if doing so would sap resources from deployable forces.

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