Senate sends revised defense bill to Obama

Senate sends revised defense bill to Obama
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The Senate overwhelmingly passed a revised annual defense policy bill on Tuesday, sending the measure to President Obama's desk for a second time. 

The Senate voted 91-3 on the $607 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which lays out broad defense policy requirements and restrictions. 

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Obama vetoed the original bill largely because of concerns about an extra $38 billion in war funding. A two-year budget deal passed late last month resolved that policy fight by increasing both defense and nondefense spending. 

The new version cut $5 billion from the original bill to match the budget deal, including $250 million to the administration's Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund and more than $1 billion in fuel savings. 

"I'm proud of this legislation. Could we have done more? Yes. ... But I would argue that this is the most significant reform legislation in the last 30 years," Sen. John McCainJohn McCainSenate committee to vote Monday on Tillerson Trump fails to mention Clinton in inaugural address Hillary Clinton under microscope at inauguration MORE (R-Ariz.), the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman who helped spearhead the bill, said ahead of Tuesday's vote. 

Sen. Bernie Sander (I-Vt.), who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, as well as Oregon Democratic Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Finance: Scoop – Trump team eyes dramatic spending cuts | Treasury pick survives stormy hearing Warren burns Mnuchin over failure to disclose assets Senate Dems want Trump to withdraw from Pacific trade deal MORE and Ron WydenRon WydenLawmakers join women's marches in DC and nationwide Senate confirms first nominees of Trump era Senate gears up for battle over Trump's CIA pick MORE voted against the legislation. 

Republican Sens. Ted CruzTed CruzTrump's America: Businessmen in, bureaucrats out When Trump says 'Make America Great Again,' he means it Booker is taking orders from corporate pharmaceuticals MORE (Texas), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamThe Hill's 12:30 Report Graham: Trump would make mistake in not punishing Russia Graham to vote for Trump’s EPA pick MORE (S.C.), Marco RubioMarco RubioGOP, Dems hear different things from Trump Senate committee to vote Monday on Tillerson Tillerson met with top State official: report MORE (Fla.), Rand PaulRand PaulDems blast Trump plans for deep spending cuts Trump team prepares dramatic cuts Paul, Lee call on Trump to work with Congress on foreign policy MORE (Ky.), David VitterDavid VitterLobbying World Bottom Line Republicans add three to Banking Committee MORE (La.) and Dean HellerDean HellerMnuchin weathers stormy confirmation hearing Live coverage: Senators grill Trump's Treasury pick Five things to watch for in Mnuchin hearing MORE (Nev.) didn't vote. Cruz, Graham, Rubio and Paul are all seeking the GOP presidential nomination.

The legislation, which passed the House by a 370-58 vote last week, includes restrictions on transferring detainees out of Guantanamo Bay, adding roadblocks to a long-standing pledge from Obama to close the facility. 

Under the NDAA, a one-year ban on moving detainees into the United States is extended. Detainees also cannot be transferred to Yemen, Somalia, Libya or Syria. 

The restrictions have gained increased scrutiny with the president expected to hand over a plan for closing the controversial facility as soon as this week. That plan is expected to include trying to move dozens of the 112 remaining detainees into the United States, something that congressional Republicans are firmly opposed to. 

While Obama called the Guantanamo provisions “counterproductive,” the White House has stopped short of issuing a fresh veto threat against the revised defense bill. Republicans are suggesting that despite the looming policy battle on the facility, they expect the president to sign the revised legislation. 

"We look forward to the Senate passing this essentially unchanged legislation and the president signing the bipartisan bill — along with its restrictions against bringing terrorists into the United States — into law," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSenate confirms first nominees of Trump era The new Washington elite schmoozes over lunch Trump takes first official acts at signing ceremony MORE (R-Ky.) said. “That’s the right thing for our men and women in uniform. That’s the right thing for our country."

McCain, separately, told reporters last week that he didn’t expect Obama would veto the bill for a second time because of the restrictions. 

“I don’t think so,” he said. “They shouldn’t. It would be a very weak argument because I’ve asked them for a plan and they haven’t given me a plan.”

Obama has raised concerns about restrictions on Guantanamo transfers during previous defense policy bills but ultimately signed them.

This story was updated at 12:21 p.m.