Senate OKs defense bill clashing with House version

The Senate late Thursday passed the 2010 defense authorization bill, setting the stage for more wrangling over key defense priorities for the Obama administration.

The bill, which authorizes $680 billion in defense spending for 2010, carries two hard-fought victories for the Obama administration: It cuts off production for Lockheed Martin's F-22 fighter jets and scuttles a secondary engine for the new Joint Strike Fighter. The massive bill also includes funding authorization for $130 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the new fiscal year which starts Oct. 1.

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But now the Senate has to resolve differences with the House, which passed its 2010 defense authorization bill containing a down-payment for more F-22s and funding for the Joint Strike Fighter alternative engine, built by General Electric and Rolls-Royce.

Moreover, the Senate bill also expands the federal hate-crimes law to those attacked because of their sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability. The House bill does not contain such a provision, and in previous years when the Senate also included similar provisions they were dropped because of concern in the House that the defense authorization bill would not pass. But sources say this year, with a larger Democratic majority, the outcome could be different.

The House approved similar legislation, outside the defense bill, in spring. The Obama administration has voiced support for the changes in the federal protections.