The Senate rejected an effort to tack on $18 billion in funding to the defense authorization bill Thursday. Members voted 56 to 42, four short of the required 60, to move forward on an amendment submitted by Senate A??rmed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would have increased the Pentagon’s overseas contingency operations funds to pay for the services’ unfunded priorities. McCain withdrew the amendment after the vote. SASC approved the $602 billion defense authorization bill with $59 billion in OCO funds in May. But shortly after, McCain said he would propose the amendment to increase spending above the current caps imposed by the Bipartisan Budget Agreement to “reverse short-sighted cuts to modernization, restore military readiness, and give our service members the support they need and deserve.” Before Thursday’s vote, he told fellow lawmakers: “You vote no on this and the consequences will be on your conscience because if you ask any leader in uniform today … they will tell you that the lives of the men and women who are serving this nation in uniform are at risk.” However, the Pentagon “was pleased it did not pass,” spokesman Peter Cook said Thursday. He said the amendment would have rattled the certainty provided by the budget agreement. “Uncertainty is an enemy,” he said. The House’s version of the NDAA, which passed in May, takes $18 billion from the requested OCO funding and shifts it to base budget expenses.
As the Pentagon increasingly pivots its focus to strategic competition with China, the U.S. will look to expand its partnership with South Korea to increase security across the entire Indo-Pacific region, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said Dec. 2 during a visit to the northeastern Asian nation.