WASHINGTON – The Senate on Thursday in a resolutely passed the annual defense policy bill, 92-7, a week after the overwhelming majority of the measure, 375-34. The vote to give Congress a solid veto-proof majorities in both chambers if the bill goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The bill seeks to give Republicans the final word on important national security, rebuffing Obama’s efforts to shutter the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and reducing the size of the armed forces.
Lawmakers authorized $611 billion for the conduct of the military in 2017. The bill also includes $7.5 billion in mandatory spending for special retirement pay, bringing the total number in the defence legislation $619 billion.
A number of other key provisions in the defense bill:
GUANTANAMO: The bill prohibits Obama from making a campaign promise to close the Guantanamo prison. Prisoners are also excluded to be moved to secure facilities in the U.S.
STOP TROOP DRAWDOWN: The Pentagon has been blocked for making planned reductions in the number of active-duty troops. The Army is forbidden to fall under the force of 476,000 soldiers. The bill also adds 7,000 service members of the air force, and Marine Corps.
Wage increase: The troops will be rewarded with a 2.1 percent salary increase. That is a half percentage point higher than the Pentagon requested.
NO BASE CLOSURES: The bill rejects a Pentagon plan to start with a new round of military base closures.
GUARD BONUSES: The bill contains an agreement that prevents thousands of California National Guard troops forced to pay back enlistment bonuses and benefits.
WARTIME ACTIVITIES: The legislation includes the $5.8 billion in additional war-related funding Obama asked for last month. The extra money includes $ 2.5 billion to maintain heightened AMERICAN troop levels of 8,400 in Afghanistan. Approximately $383 million would pay for air strikes against the Islamic State militants.