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Conference produces $633.3B defense authorization

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A House and Senate conference has agreed on a $633.3 billion national defense authorization act for fiscal 2013 that includes a pay rise for the military and cuts to the civilian workforce.

According to a Dec. 18 Senate Armed Services Committee release (.pdf), the armed services will have more than 1.4 million people on active duty during fiscal 2013, and the legislation authorizes a 1.7 percent across-the-board pay raise for all members of the uniformed services.

The bill calls for a reduction plan in the civilian workforce and service contractors that amount to cuts of 5 percent in each workforce over a 5-year period.

Language in the conference bill (.pdf) also says the defense secretary must present a plan for civilian personnel and service contractor workforce management, ensuring they "are appropriately sized to support and execute the national military strategy."

The legislation includes some items the Obama administration has objected to, such as cutting funds for the Medium Extended Air Defense System and halting a proposed fee increase for Tricare. It does, however, include some issues the administration said were vital, such as expanding and clarifying sanctions against Iran.

The Senate and House bills (S.3254 and H.R.4310) differed on the top-line amount, and the conference produced a compromise that authorizes $527.5 billion for baseline spending, $88.5 billion in overseas contingency operations and $17.3 billion for nuclear programs under the Energy Department.

The bill calls for a comprehensive assessment of the current civil war in Syria and proposals for action if it becomes a regional conflict, but it specifies that the provision "explicitly notes that it neither authorizes the use of military force nor serves as a declaration of war against Syria."

The compromise does not include the amendment from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that concerned indefinite military detention. The bill language now says that neither the Authorization for Use of Military Force nor the fiscal 2012 national defense authorization act "shall be construed to deny the availability of the writ of habeas corpus or deny any other Constitutional rights."

For more:
- download the conference bill (.pdf)
download the conference statement (.pdf)
- see the Senate Committee on Armed Services release (.pdf)
- read the House's explanatory statement (.pdf)

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