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House Passes $690B Military Spending Bill


 

The House on Thursday approved $690 billion for military spending and beat back an effort to set an accelerated time frame to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

The overall funding package passed 322 to 96, with only six Republicans voting against the measure: Representatives Justin Amash (Mich.), John Campbell (Calif.), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), John J. Duncan Jr. (Tenn.), Tom McClintock (Calif.) and Ron Paul (Tex.).

“The legislation will advance our national security aims, provide the proper care and logistical support for our fighting forces and help us meet the defense challenges of the 21st century,” said Rep. Buck McKeon (R.-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) spoke in favor of an amendment to set a time line for a political solution and reconciliation in Afghanistan, which she says has become an “open-ended, unending war.”

The amendment failed 215 to 204.

“Each time I go there, I say [to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai] ‘the American people are growing tired of war, weary of war,’ ” Pelosi said.  “The American people think we have done our job there in terms of helping the Afghanistan people.”

Republicans admonished Pelosi and said it wasn’t her job to make that determination and that its was not helpful for her to be telling Afghanistan “how tired we are.”

In a separate amendment, the House voted 294 to 123 against withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

The House also beat back a contentious movement to strip language from the bill that critics said gives the President the unlimited authority to wage war.

Section 1034 of the bill states, “Congress affirms that the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces and that those entities continue to pose a threat to the United States and its citizens, both domestically and abroad.”  It also states that “the President has the authority to use all necessary and appropriate force during the current armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force.”

McKeon said the language “is not intended to alter the President’s existing authority.  It’s intended only to reinforce it.  I believe that our men and women in uniform deserve to be on solid legal footing as they risk their lives in defense of the United States.”

The House also passed amendments to the bill to prohibit ground troops from being deployed in Libya, delay elimination of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and prevent terrorist detainees from being brought into the U.S. to testify in courts.

The measure now goes to a conference committee, where it can still be amended further.  However, President Barack Obama is already threatening to veto the legislation because of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” language, as well as the ban on transferring some Guantanamo detainees to the U.S.