Newly passed House bill would OK the President’s military parade

The House of Representatives voted Thursday to reauthorize funds for the military Thursday — a massive bill that greenlights a base budget of roughly $640 billion for national defense in the next fiscal year.

The legislation also authorizes — in two paragraphs of the more than 1,000-page bill — President Donald Trump’s request to hold a military parade in the nation’s capital to honor veterans.

The bill would give a large amount of latitude to the secretary of defense to decide which “small arms and munitions” are appropriate for display in such a parade. The Pentagon would also have discretion in determining “the participation of military units” that can perform in the parade.

Language in the bill would prohibit the use of motorized vehicles, aviation platforms, or operational military units if the secretary finds that using such resources would affect their readiness.

The measure also includes a 2.6% pay raise for troops — the largest pay raise in nine years.

CNN reported earlier this year that the Pentagon has already put out internal guidance on the parade, which is expected to take place in November on Veterans Day. The parade will “include wheeled vehicles only, no tanks,” according to a Pentagon memo.

The parade is set, however, to have “a heavy air component” with military aircraft flying overhead at the end of parade, including older aircraft “as available,” the memo said.

Still, language over the parade in the bill sparked some debate during the House Armed Services Committee’s markup of the legislation. Democrats argued the text doesn’t go far enough in banning the use of tanks.

Rep. Marc Veasey, a Texas Democrat, said at a hearing the text reads like a loophole that could ultimately allow the use of any kind of vehicle. “It’s not reasonable the way that it’s drafted,” he said. “It’s literally a loophole that you could drive a truck, a tank, or a plane through.”

Countering back, Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican and the chairman of the committee, acknowledged that some motorized vehicles may be present during the parade, but reiterated that the Pentagon already said tanks would not be allowed on Pennsylvania Ave. because it could damage the street.

“But there may be a truck, may be a car, may be a jeep — say a Vietnam era jeep — that would be appropriate to honor those who served in Vietnam,” Thornberry said. “If you can’t have any cars, any planes, etc, then I don’t think that’s an adequate job of recognizing those who have served in WW1, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, or the fight against terrorists over the last 17 years.”

The bill also includes major reforms in Pentagon bureaucracy to streamline back office activities like human resources and service contracts.

The Senate is also working on a defense authorization bill, and the two chambers are expected to go to conference to hash on the differences. The deadline to send the bill to the President’s desk is September 30.