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 McCainRubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts The VA's woes cannot be pinned on any singular administration Overnight Defense: Mattis offers support for Iran deal | McCain blocks nominees over Afghanistan strategy | Trump, Tillerson spilt raises new questions about N. Korea policy 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 MerkleyOvernight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick Dem senator slams Trump for dedicating golf trophy to hurricane victims Dem senator compares Trump to Marie Antoinette MORE and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Senate confirms No. 2 spot at HHS, days after Price resigns Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax CEO faces outraged lawmakers | Dem presses voting machine makers on cyber defense | Yahoo says 3 billion accounts affected by 2013 breach MORE voted against the legislation. 

Republican Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong This week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Week ahead: Senators work toward deal to fix ObamaCare markets MORE (Texas), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDurbin: I had 'nothing to do' with Curbelo snub Republicans jockey for position on immigration Overnight Health Care: House passes 20-week abortion ban | GOP gives ground over ObamaCare fix | Price exit sets off speculation over replacement MORE (S.C.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses 'total confidence' in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers MORE (Fla.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Authorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient GOP feuds with outside group over analysis of tax framework MORE (Ky.), David VitterDavid VitterYou're fired! Why it's time to ditch the Fed's community banker seat Overnight Energy: Trump set to propose sharp cuts to EPA, energy spending Former La. official tapped as lead offshore drilling regulator MORE (La.) and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerNevada senators urge airlines to enact new policies after Las Vegas shooting Dems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers 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 McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform 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.