Armed Forces

Senate passes defense policy bill, sends it to Obama's desk

Congress is sending President Barack Obama a defense policy bill that seeks to give Republicans the final word on key national security issues. The bill rebuffs his attempts to shutter the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and reduce the size of armed forces.

The Senate easily passed the defense legislation Thursday on a vote of 92-7, one week after the House overwhelmingly approved the bill.

The defense bill authorizes $611 billion to run the military in 2017.

The legislation bars the Pentagon from trimming the military's sprawling constellation of bases and facilities, even though senior U.S. defense officials say there is excess capacity.

The bill blocks the Pentagon's planned reductions in the number of active-duty troops by prohibiting the Army from falling below 476,000 soldiers -- 16,000 more than Obama's defense budget proposed.