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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 McCainSylvester Stallone reportedly joins Trump's Mar-a-Lago The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations Cindy McCain to be named Biden ambassador to UN program: report 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 MerkleyGreen tech isn't all it's cracked up to be 2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet 33 Democrats urge Biden to shut down Dakota Access Pipeline MORE and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenThe first Southern state legalizes marijuana — what it means nationally A bold fix for US international taxation of corporations Democrats offer competing tax ideas on Biden infrastructure MORE voted against the legislation. 

Republican Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBoehner: 'There's a lot of leaders in the Republican Party' Biden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies Boehner: Trump 'stepped all over their loyalty' by lying to followers MORE (Texas), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMSNBC's Joy Reid pans Manchin, Sinema as the 'no progress caucus' Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists Biden defense budget criticized by Republicans, progressives alike MORE (S.C.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioNikki Haley says if Trump runs for president in 2024 then she won't Trump's early endorsements reveal GOP rift The Memo: Biden's five biggest foreign policy challenges MORE (Fla.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCharles Booker launches exploratory committee to consider challenge to Rand Paul Rand Paul calls Fauci a 'petty tyrant' Biden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies MORE (Ky.), David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBiden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status Bottom line Lysol, Charmin keep new consumer brand group lobbyist busy during pandemic MORE (La.) and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play 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 McConnellTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Senate GOP opens door to earmarks McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' 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.