NDAA one step closer to House passage

Among other things, the bill calls for a study for an East Coast missile defense site, includes sanctions against Iran that the Senate included, but removes Senate language that says U.S. citizens cannot be held indefinitely when suspected of terrorism. Instead, it says nothing in the 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force prevents citizens from their constitutional rights.

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It also takes out several House provisions, such as a ban on the military's use of biofuels, a ban on on same-sex marriage ceremonies on military bases, and a permanent restriction on moving Guantanamo detainees to the United States.

Approval of the rule was followed by a debate in which some Democrats argued that the bill does not cut defense spending at all, and in fact authorizes more spending than Defense is entitled to under last year's Budget Control Act.

"Unfortunately, the final product contains policies that I simply cannot support," Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said. "The bill increases funding beyond the Pentagon's request for several programs, including a new missile defense base on the East Coast.

"This bill is more than the people at the Pentagon want. We're just throwing more money at this, and I think it's a mistake."

But as the bill represents a compromise between the House and the Senate, passage in both chambers is assured, and many Democrats are expected to support the bill when it comes up either late Thursday night or sometime Friday.

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) used the debate to chide the Senate for waiting so long to finish work on the bill — the Senate approved it earlier in the month.

"That the Senate has passed a bill is indeed commendable. Unusual, but also commendable," Bishop said.

"The Senate's procrastination on this effort is… worrisome. I only hope that in the years to come, Senate majority leadership will return to acting expeditiously, and deliberately, and in a more timely manner on something that is this important."