The Senate approved a sweeping defense policy bill late Thursday (Dec. 19, 2013).
The House, which has recessed for the holidays, has already approved the mammoth measure. And President Barack Obama is expected to sign it.
Overall, the bill would authorize about $527 billion in base defense spending for the current fiscal year, plus funds for the war in Afghanistan and nuclear weapons programs overseen by the Energy Department. The numbers are in line with the Pentagon’s request but more than $30 billion above the levels set under the bipartisan budget agreement passed in Congress this week.
Appropriations committees are expected to work through the holidays on spending bills for passage before the Jan. 15, 2014 expiration of the current continuing spending resolution that funds the federal government. If Congress is able to act in time, it would finally give the Defense Department and the rest of the government a budget.
The elevated spending levels in the new defense authorization bill allowed the Armed Services committees to avoid tough strategic choices about what to cut and what to keep under the spending caps put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011. But it also means the bill is out of sync with the fiscal realities facing the Defense Department.
The 84-15 vote followed a drawn-out partisan spat that at times appeared to threaten the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Senate Republicans, particularly, fumed about the compromise legislation’s movement through Congress on a fast track, with no opportunity for amendments.
For more details on this story, visit: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/senate-national-defense-authorization-act-barack-obama-101364.html
Download a summary of the FY14 National Defense Authorization Act at: National Defense Authorization Act for FY14 – DRAFT BILL – 113hr1960rh 06.2013