Senate approves defense authorization

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The Senate approved Dec. 4 its fiscal 2013 national defense authorization bill despite a contentious provision that would cut the Defense Department civilian and contract workforce by 5 percent through fiscal 2017.

In a 98-0 vote on Dec. 4, the Senate approved the $631 billion authorization after several days of floor debate. The final Senate version also includes amendments that restore funds to Defense Department biofuels programs, add new sanctions against Iran, change detention policies, provide servicemembers a 1.7 percent pay increase.

The only non-unanimous NDAA amendment vote on Dec. 4, was a 92-6 vote that requires a Pentagon report on options for a no-fly zone in Syria.

The bill will head to the House-Senate conference committee; the House bill currently includes provisions that will not likely pass the Senate, such as a ban on same-sex ceremonies on military bases. The House version also authorizes $3 billion more in spending and would allow a $100 million missile defense site to be constructed on the East Coast.

Despite these differences, the measure is expected to pass.  "While there are still some concerns with provisions in this bill, and particularly in its House counterpart," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), "I expect the remaining issues to be resolved in conference."

The Senate bill, however, has not addressed all the issues the White House has threatened a veto over, from upgrades to the M-1 Abrams tank to limits on funds to transfer  detainees away from Guantanamo Bay.

For more:
go to the THOMAS page for the Senate bill, S.3254
- go to the THOMAS page for the House version, H.R. 4310
read the White House statement of administration policy (.pdf)

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