Senate Passes Defense Authorization Bill

The Senate on Thursday approved its version of the Fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill by a vote of 93 to seven. S.1867 allots $662 billion for defense activities in this fiscal year, including $527 billion for the Pentagon’s base activities, $117 billion for overseas contingency operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and $17.5 billion for the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons and defense-related work. The bill’s approval clears the way for House and Senate conferees to come together to hash out the final version of the authorization legislation that will go to President Obama for his signature. The House passed its version of the bill, H.R.1540, in May, authorizing some $690 billion. That was before the 2011 Budget Control Act became law, which calls for trimming Fiscal 2012 defense expenditures by $27 billion, which is reflected in the Senate’s bill. Before the Senate’s vote on Thursday, senators added on tough sanctions on Iran for developing nuclear weapons, reported Fox News. The Senate’s bill retains language mandating military custody of captured terrorists, something the White House argues would restrict its options, causing Obama to threaten a veto if that language reaches his desk. (See also CNN blog entry.)