Defense Authorization bill clears Congress

Editor's Note: This story was modified to correct an error in the vote totals.

Both houses of Congress have passed the conference report for the fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1540). The House passed the measure on the night of  Dec. 14 by a vote of 283 to 136. It cleared the Senate on the afternoon of Dec. 15 by a vote of 86-13.

Some provisions of the bill, including one passage regarding military detention of suspected terrorists, had been the subject of fierce debate, and President Barack Obama appeared likely to veto the bill because of them. In particular, the administration objected that the military's role was mandatory, not optional, taking away the president's power to use discretion in prosecuting terrorism.

There was also controversy over whether the wording gave the military the power to detain American citizens without charge or trial.

The Associated Press did not detail any changes to those provisions, but reported that the veto threat appears to have been ended, citing a White House statement that "last-minute congressional changes no longer challenge the president’s ability to prosecute the war on terror."

The bill would bring the total authorized funding for the Defense Department to $662 billion, about $27 billion less than the administration had requested.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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