WASHINGTON – The GOP-led House is debating a defense policy bill that authorizes $602 billion in U.S. military spending for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
The White House opposes a number of provisions in the bill and has said President Barack Obama will veto the legislation if it reaches his desk. Among the objectionable measures is a plan to shift $18 billion in wartime spending to pay for weapons and troops the Pentagon didn't request. But Republicans have countered that the money is needed to reverse a severe combat readiness problem that has worsened on Obama's watch.
Here's a look at several key provisions in the defense policy bill:
TROOP LEVELS AND PAY
The legislation prohibits the Army from falling below 480,000 active-duty soldiers, adds 7,000 service members to the Air Force and Marine Corps, and approves a 2.1 percent pay raise for the troops.
The bill rejects the Pentagon's proposal to cut one of the Navy's 10 carrier air wings. It also includes 11 additional F-35 stealth fighter jets, which cost more than $100 million each, 14 F/A-18 fighters, more Blackhawk and Apache helicopters, and troop-carrying V-22 tiltrotor aircraft.
The legislation rejects the Pentagon's request for another base closure round and adds money to restore and modernize military facilities. The Defense Department wants to shutter excess bases and installations and use the savings to strengthen the armed forces.
The legislation maintains a ban on moving prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility to the United States. The longstanding congressional prohibition has kept Obama from fulfilling a campaign pledge to shutter the facility.
The bill calls for a minimum of 9,800 American troops to be deployed in Afghanistan. U.S. commanders have said the ability to train and advise the Afghan security forces will be constrained if troops are reduced to 5,500 by early next year as the White House has proposed.
SYRIA AND IRAQ
The bill recommends $930 million to train and equip rebel groups and government forces in Syria and Iraq that are fighting Islamic State extremists. The bill also demands greater transparency and oversight of the program.