House Panel Approves $638 Billion Defense Bill

Thursday, 06 Jun 2013 10:57 AM

By Lisa Barron

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The House Armed Services Committee approved a bill Thursday authorizing $638 billion in defense spending.

The legislation also includes provisions stripping the authority of commanders to overturn guilty verdicts in military sexual-assault cases, banning the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the United States, and rejecting new base closures, reports The Hill.

The committee approved the authorization measure by a vote of 59 to 2 — Democratic Reps. Jackie Speier and John Garamendi of California voted against it — after a 16-hour mark-up lasting until 2:14 a.m. Thursday.

The bill grants a $5.1 billion increase for the war in Afghanistan and sets base Pentagon spending at $526.6 billion, the amount requested in President Barack Obama's 2014 budget. That funding level, however, is $52.2 billion over the budget caps set by sequestration, and the Pentagon could be forced to implement another round of across-the-board cuts in 2014 if Congress acts to overturn the sequester.

"I think in this committee there's a growing awareness that sequestration is a fact of life, so whatever we do here today will wind up being reduced by a significant amount," Washington Rep. Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the committee, told The Hill.

The bill moves to the House floor for debate next week, as the Senate Armed Services Committee begins marking up its own version of a defense spending measure in closed session




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