His amendment, backed by the committee on a 36-25 vote, said the services should accommodate the rights of conscience of members of the services and chaplains who are morally or religiously opposed to expressions of human sexuality and may not use this against them in promotions or training.
Sanchez questioned what would happen if a member of the service literally interpreted Leviticus, which considers homosexuality an abomination. That prompted an odd exchange with Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., who argued that was the Old Testament and not part of the Bible.
The committee also backed an amendment that barred same-sex marriages or "marriage-like" ceremonies on military installations. The vote was 37-24.
In a pre-emptive move, the committee backed an amendment by Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., prohibiting any spending on implementing an international agreement on activities in space unless the pact has been ratified by the Senate or authorized by law.
The idea of another round of domestic base closings lost by a 44-18 vote. Lawmakers have challenged the savings from previous closings. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had proposed two rounds, but there's no enthusiasm in Congress for that during an election year.
The committee chairman, Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., said the legislation represents a "modest" increase over the administration's proposal and "actively rebuilds the military within the constrained resources available to us."
Smith said he was pleased that the bill includes new conditions on providing aid to Pakistan. "It is imperative that Pakistan support our counterterrorism efforts," he said.
Election-year maneuvering over the size of the Pentagon budget is unfolding against a backdrop of worries by Republicans and Democrats that the nation's defenses will suffer if lawmakers cannot stave off more than $500 billion in mandatory military spending cuts scheduled to begin taking effect next year.
The military service chiefs, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, have said they support the Obama plan, but some Republicans have suggested they harbor misgivings.
The administration already is selectively cutting $487 billion from the Pentagon budget over 10 years, dictated by the agreement last year between congressional Republicans and Obama on a deficit-cutting plan. The Pentagon has said that approach is prudent in light of shrinking combat commitments abroad and concerns about budget deficits at home.
Panetta has stressed his concern about Congress failing to find a way around the $500 billion in mandatory automatic cuts to the defense budget over 10 years, starting in January, which he said would require a "meat-ax approach" to savings.
The House bill challenges the administration's proposal on several important fronts. One provision would block planned increases in health care fees for certain military retirees. The administration argues that the increases are overdue and the savings needed to preserve spending elsewhere.
The bill also would prohibit the Air Force from retiring certain Air National Guard planes, as called for in the administration's plan. Numerous governors have pushed back hard against the administration's proposed aircraft cuts and reassignments.