Congress Passes $633 Billion Defense Bill

Congress Passes $633 Billion Defense Bill

On Thursday, the House passed a $633 billion defense authorization bill that “provides a 1.7-percent pay raise for the military,” funds the war in Afghanistan, “includes fresh sanctions against Iran,” and offers “compromise language on military detention of US citizens.” On Friday, the bill passed the Senate, leaving it waiting to be signed by President Obama.

The bill, which passed 315-107 in the House and 81-14 in the Senate, also authorizes “the Pentagon to pay for abortions in cases of rape and incest and lifts a ban on same-sex marriage ceremonies on military bases.”

House and Senate conferees settled on “$527.4 billion for the base Pentagon budget; $88.5 billion for overseas contingency operations including the war in Afghanistan; and $17.8 billion for national security programs in the Department of Energy and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.”

At issue was an amendment “designed to limit the president’s power to indefinitely detain US citizens as terror suspects.” Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) sponsored the amendment that was taken out of the final bill because “rights groups had expressed concern” that the amendment “referred specifically to US nationals and legal residents, leaving open the possibility that under the rule the military might be used to detain illegal immigrants.”

Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and ranking member John McCain (R-AZ) said the legislation should not be seen as denying “any person inside the United States who would otherwise be entitled to the availability of such writ or to such rights.”

Adam Smith (D-WA), the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said the amendment “prohibiting for another year the use of US funds for transfer of Guantanamo inmates marked a setback for Obama’s efforts to close the detention center at the US Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba” because it “ties the president’s hands on how to deal with the people on Guantanamo.”

The bill also “authorizes $9.8 billion for missile defense, including funds for a Pentagon feasibility study on three possible missile defense sites on the US East Coast.” 

The bill will now be sent to President Barack Obama to sign.