It was, to be sure, a bold and audacious move from a relatively unknown member of Congress, who moved forward despite fervent objections from both the Defense Department and the White House and not so much as a full committee hearing or debate.
Alabama Republican Mike D. Rogers nevertheless used his perch atop a House Armed Services subcommittee to slip language into the annual Pentagon policy bill to create an entirely new military service focused on space.
The House on Thursday agreed by unanimous consent to begin negotiations with the Senate on the fiscal 2018 Defense authorization bill. Throughout the coming weeks, a panel of conferees from each chamber will negotiate a final version of the legislation before Congress votes to send the bill to the president.
The House will send to the conference 46 Republicans and 27 Democrats. Eighteen Republicans and 13 Democrats will represent the Armed Services Committee in the negotiations.
The House committees on Intelligence, Budget, Education and Workforce, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, Judiciary, Natural Resources, Oversight, Science, Space and Technology, Small Business, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, and Ways and Means will be represented by two Republicans and one Democrat from each committee. The Senate has not yet named its conference members.
With the Senate’s 2018 defense authorization bill passing a procedural hurdle Thursday, the chamber is expected to vote on final passage of the massive military policy bill Monday.
The Senate voted 84-9 to invoke cloture and limit debate on a substitute version of the bill that includes 104 amendments.
The question now is which, if any, amendments will be considered. There was no deal on a path forward for votes by the time the Senate departed Thursday for the weekend. But Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said he hoped to have an agreement on another package of amendments before final passage.
The Senate will take up the massive Pentagon policy bill this week, providing a stage for high-profile debate on simmering national security issues ranging from transgender troops to the growing North Korea nuclear threat.
Senators have already filed hundreds of amendments to the defense bill, among them language to allow transgender people to serve openly in the military, establish a North Korea strategy, limit arms sales to U.S. allies, define U.S. objectives in Afghanistan and block the creation of a new military service.
The debate will also put, front and center, Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain‘s sharp disagreements with President Donald Trump on Russia and a number of other national security issues, adding a layer of new drama to the upper chamber’s consideration of the defense bill.
The House on Thursday passed the so-called security minibus appropriations package on a 235-192 vote, allocating nearly $790 billion across four separate spending bills, including $658 billion for defense.
The measure designates $584 billion in regular defense appropriations and $73.9 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations accounts.
The bill also allocates $1.57 billion for a border wall, perhaps the most contentious line item in the massive spending package. And it blocks some defense spending in Afghanistan and transactions with Iran, while adding funds for missile defense and other weapons programs.
The House Rules Committee on Wednesday approved a structured rule governing floor debate for amendments to the fiscal 2018 defense appropriations bill, the final piece of the four-bill minibus spending package on the House floor.
Legislators will work through 54 amendments in the defense measure (HR 3219) during debate Thursday, including language to restrict spending defense funds on certain projects in Afghanistan and Yemen and efforts to add funds for missile defense and other weapons programs.
The House and Senate Armed Services committees took significantly different approaches in their annual Pentagon policy bills on everything from space operations to Army manpower, lining up what could be a tough conference negotiation later this year.
Among the biggest differences in the bills is how each approached space defense programs. The House panel advanced legislation that would create a new military service focused on space and operated by the Air Force called Space Corps. The proposal, which has the backing of committee Republicans and Democrats alike, would amount to a historic restructuring of the military, if it becomes law.
20 Jul 16, 18:57 - Crude oil, Oil products, Fundamentals, Refining
Houston, 20 July (Argus) — China's move toward a market-oriented economy has spurred a glut of refined products as many refiners import seaborne crude for the first time on newly-allowed licenses.
Fu Chengyu, the former chair of China's largest refiner Sinopec, told Columbia University's Energy Exchange Podcast this week that the Chinese government did not seek the proliferation of private refineries, known as teakettles, but that the potential for profit drove the growth. This was a side-effect of the Xi Jinping administration's changes to communist party doctrine which gave the market a decisive role in resource allocation.
10 Jun 16, 17:56 - Biofuels, Crude oil, Freight, Fundamentals
Houston, 10 June (Argus) — Railed US shipments of crude fell by over 30pc for the first three months of 2016 compared with the 2013-2015 average as ethanol and biodiesel shipments held steady, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA) data.
Between 2013-2015 crude-by-rail shipments averaged 23.8mn bl/month compared with 16.3mn bl/month in the first quarter of 2016. Biodiesel shipments averaged just under 630,000 bl/month in the three-year period compared with 640,000 bl/month in the first quarter of this year. Ethanol shipments increased from 17.7mn bl/month between 2013 and 2015 with 17.9 bl/month in 2016's first quarter.