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Thu Dec 8, 2016, 09:25 PM

U.S. Congress passes $618.7 billion annual defense bill

Source: Reuters

POLITICS | Thu Dec 8, 2016 | 4:58pm EST

U.S. Congress passes $618.7 billion annual defense bill

By Patricia Zengerle | WASHINGTON

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed a compromise version of an annual defense policy bill on Thursday without controversial provisions such as requiring women to register for the draft or allowing contractors to make religion-based hiring decisions.

Ninety-two senators backed the $618.7 billion National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, and seven opposed it. Because it passed the House of Representatives by a similarly large margin last week, the bill now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama to veto or sign into law.

A White House spokesman told a briefing on Thursday he did not yet have a position on the bill to report.

The 2016 bill, the last of Obama's presidency, includes some Republican-backed initiatives with which he has disagreed in the past. It includes a $3.2 billion increase in military spending, when there has been no similar increase in non-defense funding.

The bill also bars closures of military bases, although top Pentagon officials say they have too much capacity, and it blocks planned reductions in active-duty troop numbers.

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Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-defense-congress-idUSKBN13X26G

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