WASHINGTON – The Senate on Thursday decisively passed the annual defense policy bill, 92-7, a week after the House overwhelmingly approved the measure, 375-34. The votes give Congress solid veto-proof majorities in both chambers as the bill heads to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The bill seeks to give Republicans the final word on key national security issues, rebuffing Obama's attempts to shutter the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and reduce the size of armed forces.
Lawmakers authorized $611 billion to run the military in 2017. The bill also includes $7.5 billion in mandatory spending for special retirement pay, bringing the overall total in the defense legislation to $619 billion.
Several other key provisions in the defense bill:
GUANTANAMO: The bill prohibits Obama from making good on a campaign pledge to close the Guantanamo prison. Detainees also are barred from being moved to secure facilities in the U.S.
STOP TROOP DRAWDOWN: The Pentagon is blocked from making planned reductions in the number of active-duty troops. The Army is prohibited from falling below a force of 476,000 soldiers. The bill also adds 7,000 service members to the Air Force and Marine Corps.
PAY RAISE: The troops are awarded a 2.1 percent pay raise. That's a half-percentage point higher than the Pentagon requested.
NO BASE CLOSURES: The bill rejects a Pentagon plan to begin a new round of military base closures.
GUARD BONUSES: The bill includes an agreement that prevents thousands of California National Guard troops from being forced to repay enlistment bonuses and benefits.
WARTIME OPERATIONS: The legislation includes the $5.8 billion in additional war-related funding Obama asked for last month. The extra money includes $2.5 billion to maintain elevated U.S. troop levels of 8,400 in Afghanistan. About $383 million would pay for airstrikes against Islamic State militants.