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 McCainSantorum: Trump should 'send emails to a therapist' instead of tweeting Meghan McCain: Trump obsessed with my father because he 'will never be a great man' CNN's Amanda Carpenter: Trump attacking McCain 'to distract' from 'questions about the Russia investigation' 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 MerkleyBusiness groups urge Congress to combat LGBTQ discrimination in workplace Overnight Energy: EPA moves to raise ethanol levels in gasoline | Dems look to counter White House climate council | Zinke cleared of allegations tied to special election Will Washington finally do something about high drug prices? MORE and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenKlobuchar: ObamaCare a 'missed opportunity' to address drug costs Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — FDA issues proposal to limit sales of flavored e-cigs | Trump health chief gets grilling | Divisions emerge over House drug pricing bills | Dems launch investigation into short-term health plans Hillicon Valley: Doctors press tech to crack down on anti-vax content | Facebook, Instagram suffer widespread outages | Spotify hits Apple with antitrust complaint | FCC rejects calls to delay 5G auction MORE voted against the legislation. 

Republican Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Rourke faces sharp backlash from left Dem strategist says South Carolina will be first 'real test' for O'Rourke MSNBC's Scarborough hits O'Rourke on his message: 'It's all goop' MORE (Texas), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOverwhelming majority of voters want final Mueller report released: poll Bottom Line Pence traveling to SC for Graham reelection launch MORE (S.C.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDem senator wants Trump to extend immigration protections to Venezuelans Juan Williams: Don't rule out impeaching Trump Trump keeps tight grip on GOP MORE (Fla.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrio of NFL players intern on Capitol Hill as part of league program Trump keeps tight grip on GOP GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers MORE (Ky.), David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBottom Line Bottom Line Top 5 races to watch in 2019 MORE (La.) and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary Oregon Dem top recipient of 2018 marijuana industry money, study finds 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 McConnellGOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers Republicans up for reelection fear daylight with Trump Overnight Energy: Students around globe demand climate action | EPA bans consumer sales of deadly chemical in paint strippers | Green New Deal set for Senate vote 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.