Skip to comments.House, Senate agree on sweeping defense bill
Posted on 12/19/2012 1:47:01 AM PST by Jet Jaguar
After ironing out differences in the House and Senates competing versions of the bill, congressional negotiators have set the stage for a final vote this week on the National Defense Authorization Act, a sweeping $632 billion defense bill, which will provide for modest troop pay increases and Tricare fee hikes, as well as insurance coverage for abortions in the case of rape and incest.
Considered must-pass legislation every year, the bill provides a blueprint for Congress national defense priorities for the year. Lawmakers hailed their ability to get the bill passed for the 51st year a row, a sign of their bipartisanship, despite the logjam of current fiscal cliff talks.
The bill authorizes Pentagon spending of $552.2 billion in baseline military spending, $1.7 billion above President Barack Obamas request, as well as $88.5 billion more for the overseas contingency operation, which funds the war in Afghanistan.
The bill calls for a 1.7 percent pay raise, starting Jan. 1, for military personnel and significantly more modest increases in Tricare copays for retail brand name prescription than the Obama administration was asking for, said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. It opts to raise such copayments from $12 to $16, and makes future hikes that match annual cost-of-living adjustments in military retirement pay, typically of a few percentage points.
In contrast, the President and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta were pushing for even steeper Tricare copay hikes of $26 in 2013 and $34 by 2016, to encourage more frequent use of less expensive options of mail order and base pharmacies, which both say will generate savings needed to fund other key defense priorities.
Lawmakers also for the first time added a provision that will provide servicemembers and their dependents insurance coverage for abortion in cases of rape and incest, repealing an existing ban.
And the legislation calls for significantly stepped-up regulations and procedures for combating and prosecuting sexual assault within the military and deterring sexual predators, Levin said. It also requires the Defense Department to develop a comprehensive policy on suicide prevention.
The bill also strongly tightens sanctions on Iran to deter the threat of its building nuclear weapons, gives Congress more oversight authority over any plans to increase the Defense Departments spy network in Defense Intelligence Agency, and limits the Presidents authority in handling terror suspects, by prohibiting the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States. The President last month had threatened to veto these detainee restrictions, arguing that it restricts the executive branchs authority to respond to evolving national security threats. However, Congressional observers say that the President is not likely to follow through on this threat.
The defense bill also protects the rights of U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism from indefinite detainment and secures their rights for a civilian trial, if they are on U.S. soil.
Lawmakers also said they "didn't see anything in the language that would give the President concern."
If the bill passes both chambers this week, it will be headed to the Presidents desk for approval. If he vetoes it, Congress will have to reconsider the bill or garner a two-thirds majority in both chambers for a veto override.
What austerity? Let’s just keep invading shitte hole countries to spread BS Democracy!
Of course they didn’t have any differences on the part that says the govt can scoop American citizens up off the street and hold them indefinitely.
I’d like to change that last BS to BO. Note that these huge spending sprees into Pieceful nations, began w/ Bush. I’ll never forget his apparently strong opinion that the Pieceful Religion worshipped that same God as we do. That seemed to imply the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (YHVH); a world upside down.
Yeah, I’m not in favor of sending any taxpayer $’s to a DoD, DoS, DHS, DoJ or any other bureaucracies that will likely use some of the funding to violate the Constitution.