Thursday,
21 September 2017
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U.S. Congress OKs $607 bln defense policy bill

Congress has sent President Barack Obama a $607 billion defense policy bill that he is expected to sign even though he adamantly opposes its ban on moving some Guantanamo Bay detainees to U.S. prisons, according to AP.

U.S. Congress  / Photo from uk.wikipedia.org
U.S. Congress / Photo from uk.wikipedia.org

The Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill, 91-3, on Tuesday just days after the House passed the bipartisan measure, 370-58. The legislation authorizes Pentagon spending on military personnel, ships, aircraft and other war-fighting equipment, Yahoo! News reported with reference to AP.

The revised bill also authorizes $300 million for Ukraine forces fighting Russian-backed militants, including $50 million for lethal assistance and counter-artillery radars.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama would sign the bill because it includes provisions critical to protecting the United States. But he said the president's signature does not change his position about the need to close the U.S. prison in Cuba. To do so, however, Obama would have to ignore the will of Congress.

The bill imposes restrictions on transferring any of the 112 remaining detainees to the United States or a foreign country. Loudest in congressional opposition have been the Republican senators from Colorado, Kansas and South Carolina — three states which have facilities reviewed by a Pentagon assessment team.

Obama vetoed an earlier version of the defense policy bill over a dispute, later resolved, about whether defense spending increases should be accompanied by boosts in domestic programs.

Among other things, the revised bill:

—Authorizes $300 million for Ukraine forces fighting Russian-backed rebels, including $50 million for lethal assistance and counter-artillery radars.

—Extends a ban on torture to the CIA.

—Authorizes the president's request of $715 million to help Iraqi forces fight Islamic State militants.

—Identifies $11 billion in unnecessary spending and reinvests it in fighter aircraft, shipbuilding and strengthening cyber defense.

—Authorizes $3.8 billion for the Afghan national security forces.

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