Defense Policy Bill Becomes Law

President Obama signed H.R. 4310, the Fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill, into law, announced the White House on Thursday. The legislation, on which lawmakers concluded work in December, provides $633.3 billion for national defense programs in this fiscal year. President Obama signed the bill on Wednesday, Hawaii time; he is currently vacationing there. Obama said in a statement he decided to approve the legislation, despite his reservations over certain provisions, because “it authorizes essential support for service members and their families, renews vital national security programs, and helps ensure that the United States will continue to have the strongest military in the world.” Among his concerns, restrictions in the act on the Defense Department’s “ability to retire unneeded ships and aircraft will divert scarce resources needed for readiness and result in future unfunded liabilities,” he said. Also, by failing to agree to “prudent cost-sharing reforms” in Pentagon health care programs, “Congress may force reductions in the overall size of our military forces,” he stated. In a related matter, Obama also enacted H.R. 8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, on Jan. 2. Among its provisions, the act delays budget sequestration by several months. (H.R. 4310 conference report; caution, extremely large-sized file.) (See also AFPS report by Jim Garamone.)