The Senate today approved the fiscal 2011 National Defense Authorization Act by unanimous consent, removing a provision that would have provided reparations to war survivors in Guam. The bill now goes back to the House for final approval.
Interestingly, no single Senator took the time to demand the reading of the new, over 900 page, bill, nor complain about a lack of time for debate, and neither Kyl nor DeMint complained that the bill was “jammed” through so close to Christmas.
The stripped down defense authorization came after House and Senate Democrats agreed to remove “controversial” elements, such as “don’t ask don’t tell” and a provision that would have allowed privately funded abortions in military hospitals. But even without those controversial provisions, the measure packs a punch.
The bill provides for $725 billion in defense spending, well over the President’s $708 billion request, including $158.7 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Unlike in previous years, the House passed the defense bill Friday with almost no debate on Afghanistan, despite a recent White House review suggesting that tough combat in Afghanistan would continue for years and troop withdrawals in 2011 would be small.
The bill contains $75 million to train and equip Yemeni counterterrorism forces; $205 million for a program with Israel to develop its “Iron Dome” defense system; $11.6 billion for Afghan security forces; and $1.5 billion for Iraqi security forces.
In addition, the bill will provide for a 1.4 percent pay raise for troops and guarantee health care coverage for children of service members up to age 26. It would also continue restrictions on the Defense Department’s ability to close Guantanamo Bay, including prohibiting the transfer of detainees to the U.S.
The measure was sold as having been stripped of all controversy and is being lauded for its broad bipartisan support, but perhaps the Senate is simply busy playing politics elsewhere?