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House passes $662 billion defense bill

December 15, 2011 • National News


Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, center, flanked by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Ariz., and fellow committee member Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011, to announce an effort to replace the defense sequester mandated as a result of the Supercommittee’s failure. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House passed a massive $662 billion defense bill Wednesday night after last-minute changes placated the White House and ensured President Barack Obama’s ability to prosecute terrorist suspects in the civilian justice system.

The vote was 283-136 and reflected the strong support for annual legislation that authorizes money for the men and women of the military as well as weapons systems and the millions of jobs they generate in lawmakers’ districts.

It was a rare instance of bipartisanship in a bitterly divided Congress. The Senate is expected to pass the measure on Thursday and send it to Obama.

The House vote came just hours after the administration abandoned a veto threat over provisions dealing with the handling of terrorism suspects.

Applying pressure on House and Senate negotiators working on the bill last week, Obama and senior members of his national security team, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, had sought modifications in the detainee provisions.

Negotiators announced the changes late Monday, clearing the way for White House acceptance.

In a statement, press secretary Jay Carney said the new bill “does not challenge the president’s ability to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists and protect the American people.”

Specifically, the bill would require that the military take custody of a suspect deemed to be a member of al-Qaida or its affiliates and who is involved in plotting or committing attacks on the United States. There is an Login to read more

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