House advances Defense authorization bill

The NDAA bill, H.R. 1540, authorizes $554 billion for the base military budget and $115.5 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That's a $19 billion cut from the 2011 NDAA bill, and more than $20 billion below bills that passed the House and Senate.

One of the more controversial provisions of the bill is language that reaffirms the authority of the administration to detain people found to be associated with al Qaeda, and requires military detention for anyone who plots an attack against the United States. In both cases, the bill does not create any new authority to detain U.S. citizens, ensuring their rights to a fair trial, and the military detention language does exempts U.S. citizens.

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Despite these clear exemptions in the bill, Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) argued that the bill still does not protect U.S. citizens enough.

The bill would also call for new sanctions against Iran's central bank, an addition that Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) welcomed on the House floor today.

During debate on the rule, Hastings complained that the bill still spends too much and doesn't reform defense spending enough. "It commits us to more war, and more wasteful spending, and it permits us to cede our freedoms and liberties on the mere suspicion of wrongdoing," he said.

But Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) argued that Democrats are trying to have it both ways, by calling for increased government spending in all other areas but calling for cuts to defense.

Bishop said Democrats are calling for spending increases "in the areas which is questionable if we should be there in the first place. But at the same time we are being pilloried for not doing that, we are being presented by the left hand with a proposal that will actually cut existing civilian jobs in areas where we are constitutionally required to have them and to maintain them.

"If we don't at least find that inconsistent and mind-bogglingly inconsistent, it is one of our problems in not facing the reality," Bishop said.

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