Defense Policy Bill Awaits President’s Signature

HR 6523, the modified version of the Fiscal 2011 defense authorization bill, last week cleared the final hurdles en route to President Obama’s desk for his signature. The Senate approved the $724.6 billion piece of legislation on Dec. 22, five days after the House voted in favor of it. The bill provides $548.2 billion for the Pentagon’s base budget ($0.7 billion less than Administration’s request), $158.7 billion for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq ($0.6 billion less), and $17.7 billion for Energy Department national security programs (same). “At a time when we have roughly 150,000 US soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, [passing the bill] will send an important message that we, as a nation, stand behind them and appreciate their service,” stated Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, in a committee release following the Senate’s vote. Among its provisions, the bill authorizes a 1.4 percent pay raise for US service members. The bill neither authorizes nor restricts funding for the F136, the competing engine for the F-35 strike fighter, reports Reuters. (See also Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ statement)