US Congress passes $618.7 billion annual defense bill
The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed a compromise version of an annual defense policy bill on Thursday without controversial provisions such as requiring women to register for the draft or allowing contractors to make religion-based hiring decisions, Reuters reported.
Ninety-two senators backed the $618.7 billion National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, and seven opposed it. Because it passed the House of Representatives by a similarly large margin last week, the bill now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama to veto or sign into law.
A White House spokesman told a briefing on Thursday he did not yet have a position on the bill to report.
The 2016 bill, the last of Obama's presidency, includes some Republican-backed initiatives with which he has disagreed in the past. It includes a $3.2 billion increase in military spending, when there has been no similar increase in non-defense funding.
The bill also bars closures of military bases, although top Pentagon officials say they have too much capacity, and it blocks planned reductions in active-duty troop numbers.
And it continues policies that bar transfers of prisoners to U.S. soil from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which Obama had hoped to close. While his administration has shipped most inmates from the controversial prison, the Democrat is not expected to accomplish his goal of shuttering it before he leaves office Jan. 20.