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 Sidney McCainMcCain rips Trump for attacks on press NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Meghan McCain says her father regrets opposition to MLK Day 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 MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyEarly tax bill reality very different than Democratic rhetoric Senate GOP seeks to change rules for Trump picks Dem senators tear into Trump: Tax bill 'a very big Christmas gift from Trump to himself' MORE and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenWeek ahead: Senate takes up surveillance bill This week: Time running out for Congress to avoid shutdown Senate Finance Dems want more transparency on trade from Trump MORE voted against the legislation. 

Republican Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWith religious liberty memo, Trump made America free to be faithful again Interstate compacts aren't the right way to fix occupational licensing laws Texas Dem: ‘I don’t know what to believe’ about what Trump wants for wall MORE (Texas), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDHS chief takes heat over Trump furor Overnight Defense: GOP chair blames Dems for defense budget holdup | FDA, Pentagon to speed approval of battlefield drugs | Mattis calls North Korea situation 'sobering' Bipartisan group to introduce DACA bill in House MORE (S.C.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector Senators unveil bipartisan push to deter future election interference Puerto Rico's children need recovery funds MORE (Fla.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulNSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Fix what we’ve got and make Medicare right this year Despite amnesty, DACA bill favors American wage-earners MORE (Ky.), David VitterDavid Bruce VitterWhere is due process in all the sexual harassment allegations? Not the Senate's job to second-guess Alabama voters The Senate 'ethics' committee is a black hole where allegations die MORE (La.) and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerDemocrats search for 51st net neutrality vote Nevada Dems unveil 2018 campaign mascot: 'Mitch McTurtle' Senate campaign fundraising reports roll in 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 McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit 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.