Published on Friday, July 8, 2011 by the Associated Press
House Passes $649B Defense Spending Bill
by Donna Cassata
The strong bipartisan vote was 336-87 and reflected lawmakers' intent to ensure national security, preserve defense jobs across the nation and avoid deep cuts while the country is at war.
While House Republican leaders slashed billions from all other government agencies, the Defense Department is the only one that will see a double-digit increase in its budget beginning Oct. 1.
Amid negotiations to cut spending and raise the nation's borrowing limit, the House rejected several amendments to cut the Pentagon budget, including a measure by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., to halve the bill's increase in defense spending.
"We are at a time of austerity. We are at a time when the important programs, valid programs, are being cut back," Frank said.
Scoffing at the suggestion that "everything is on the table" in budget negotiations between the Obama administration and congressional leaders, Frank said, "The military budget is not on the table. The military is at the table, and it is eating everybody else's lunch."
Still, the overall bill is $9 billion less than President Barack Obama sought. The White House has threatened a veto, citing limits on the president's authority to transfer detainees from the
The measure includes $119 billion for the wars in
The House also voted to slow repeal of the policy allowing gays to serve openly in the military, backing an amendment to block funds for the training manual for the Chaplain Corps on ending the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., sponsor of the amendment, said its purpose was to prohibit chaplains from performing same-sex marriages on Navy bases regardless of a state's law. The House approved the measure 236-184.
The overall bill must be reconciled with a still-to-be-completed Senate version.
The final vote came after the House turned back an amendment by Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of
The House has sent mixed signals on Obama's military action against
In a series of votes Thursday, Republicans and Democrats expressed their dissatisfaction with the
The votes mirrored the contradictory actions of the House last month, when lawmakers refused to approve the operation but declined to cut off the money.
The congressional unrest over
The House voted 225-201 for an amendment sponsored by Cole to bar the Pentagon from providing "military equipment, training or advice or other support for military activities" to an outside group, such as rebel forces, for military action in or against
Forty-eight Democrats backed the Republican-sponsored measure.
The intent of the measure was to prohibit aid to the rebels such as weapons and assistance to their Transitional National Council, including operational planning. The broad effort also would target contractors in
Obama already has authorized $25 million in nonlethal assistance to the rebels, including thousands of meals from Pentagon stocks. The
Moments after that vote Thursday, the House rejected a measure that would have prohibited funds for the
Lawmakers argue that Obama violated the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which requires a president to seek congressional approval within 60 days of the first military strikes, a move the commander in chief did not make.
In a reflection of congressional anger toward the administration, the House voted overwhelmingly for an amendment that prohibits spending that violates the War Powers Resolution and focuses on future military operations.
The House also rejected two other efforts to prohibit funds for the
Sen. John McCain, top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, criticized the House vote on aid to the rebels, arguing that it sends the wrong message to Gadhafi and those challenging the long-time leader.
"I am saddened by the abandonment of America's traditional support for those struggling for freedom and democracy, which has been a hallmark of our Republican Party for decades," said the Arizona Republican, who traveled to Benghazi in April to meet with the rebels.
Since NATO took command of the
The Senate has delayed consideration of a resolution authorizing the
© 2011 Associated Press
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs