House lawmakers on Friday approved a $612 billion defense authorization bill for next year despite objections from Democratic leaders and a White House veto threat over plans to skirt spending caps with oversized temporary war funds.
The measure includes an overhaul of the military’s retirement system and rejects a host of pay and benefits trims proposed by the Pentagon. It supports, in principle, a 2.3 percent pay raise for troops, but lacks the legislative language to force that paycheck boost, leaving flexibility for President Obama to go with the lower 1.3 percent raise backed by Pentagon leaders.
The bill also includes a host of new policy changes on sexual assault protections and prosecution, reforms to the defense acquisition process, and restrictions on transfer of detainees out of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The final 269-151 vote came after two days of pleas from Republican leaders to advance the bill. The measure had passed out of the House Armed Services Committee last month on a 60-2 vote and often enjoys bipartisan support even amid the bitter party fights that have become increasingly common on Capitol Hill.
But Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the armed services committee’s ranking Democrat, led efforts to oppose the measure this time over the war funding boost, calling it a gimmick by GOP leaders. The White House has also threatened to veto the measure over the funding breakdown.