Congress Passes Massive Defense Bill
Congress approved the $662 billion defense bill last Thursday after months of negotiating over how to handle arrested terrorist suspects without going against Americans’ constitutional rights. A compromise has been reached but it doesn’t mean that the fight is over.
The Senate voted 86 to 13 in favor of the measure and it now requires the signature of President Obama. The bill would authorize money for weapons systems, military personnel, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and national security programs in the Energy Department for the fiscal year that began October 1.
The measure is $27 billion less than the one that Obama wanted and $43 billion less than Congress gave Pentagon this year, which is due to the deficit-driven federal budgets, end of the war in Iraq, and the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The House voted 283 to 136 in a rare show of bipartisanship in favor of the bill. Senator John McCain of Arizona said that this is a good sign in a divided Washington. Fierce debate went on with regards to the provisions on suspected terrorists that have pitted the administration against Congress. It divided the Democrats and Republicans and drawn the anger of civil rights organizations.
The White House said that it would veto the legislation but later dropped the warning last Wednesday because changes by congress no longer challenge the president’s ability to prosecute the war on terror.