Senate sends $633B defense authorization to Obama’s desk

The Senate passed the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets Defense Department policy and authorizes $633 billion in spending in the current fiscal year.

On Friday, the Senate passed the conference report between the House and Senate on an 81-14 vote. The House passed the bill 315-107 on Thursday.

President Obama isn’t likely to view final passage of the conference agreement as a Christmas present — he has said he would veto the bill. But both the House and Senate passed the bill with a veto-proof majority, so an Obama veto would likely be easily overridden.

A controversial part of the bill relates to detainee policy. The House-passed bill affirmed that U.S. citizens have habeas corpus rights on U.S. soil, while the Senate bill said U.S. citizens could not be held under military detention indefinitely. The compromise language says nothing in last year's NDAA or the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) would prevent the constitutional rights of those captured on U.S. soil from being infringed upon, but there was still some opposition saying the language wasn’t enough.

“I rise in opposition to this bill because I believe it contains language to would allow U.S. citizens to be detained without a trial,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said before the vote. “This goes against everything we stand for as a country. … Every American accused of committing a crime, no matter how heinous, should have their day in court.”

Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said Paul was “flat out wrong.”

Sens. Paul, Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), James Risch (R-Idaho), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) voted against final passage of the conference report.

The bill also includes language providing reproductive healthcare to female service members, including abortion in the cases of rape and incest.

“With the inclusion of my amendment in the final defense bill, we’ve made an important step to restoring equity to military service women,” said Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who introduced the amendment. “After three decades of a policy that discriminated against women who put their lives on the line for us, I’m proud of my colleagues in both Houses of Congress and of both parties who are going to allow us to right this wrong.”

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