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Friday, December 9, 2016

Washington (AFP) – A sweeping defense bill that authorizes Pentagon spending passed Congress, assuring funding through 2014 while easing detainee transfers from Guantanamo and cracking down on sexual assault in the military.

The compromise legislation, which passed 84-15 with broad bipartisan support in the Senate, allocates some $552.1 billion for military spending on bases and equipment as well as troop training and resources, and allows for a one percent raise in military salaries.

The National Defense Authorization Act also provides $80.7 billion for overseas contingency operations, namely the 12-year-old war in Afghanistan.

Passage ensures an NDAA will be signed into law on time for the 53rd consecutive year, something that appeared to be in doubt earlier this month when tussles over other legislation like the recently-passed budget agreement and executive nominations stalled the defense bill.

The process angered several Republican lawmakers because in the rush to pass the measure, they were not allowed to introduce or debate key amendments.

Some Republicans, including Senator Lindsey Graham, had wanted to attach an amendment imposing tough new economic sanctions on Iran.

In the aftermath, bipartisan negotiators from both the Senate and House of Representatives hashed out a compromise bill. Last week it won overwhelming approval from the House.

Obama has expressed support for the bill, and the White House reiterated its backing Thursday.

“Overall, the administration is pleased with the modifications and improvements contained in the bill that address most of the administration’s significant objections with earlier versions regarding these issues,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

The bill includes language that eases restrictions on the president’s ability for transferring Guantanamo detainees overseas, a potential first step toward meeting his 2008 campaign pledge to close the controversial prison for terror suspects in Cuba.

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