Senate Passes Defense Authorization Bill

The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved S.3254, its version of the Fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill, providing $631.4 billion for national defense programs and the war in Afghanistan. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, told reporters following the bill’s passage that the total amount authorized is about $230 million less than President Obama requested. Those figures correspond to the bill iteration that the SASC approved in May. Levin said senators added 145 amendments to the full Senate’s final version. Among its many provisions, the bill takes care of military personnel and their families, provides a 1.7 percent military pay increase, fully funds efforts to train and equip Afghan security forces, and requires defense contractors to report breaches of their classified computer networks to the Pentagon, highlighted Levin. Other measures allow the Pentagon to continue pursuing biofuels, tighten sanctions on Iran, ban transfers of Guantanamo detainees to the United States, and require reports on the resources needed for the Pentagon’s Asia-Pacific pivot, reported Reuters (via the Chicago Tribune). House and Senate authorizers must still come together before the 112th Congress ends later this month to hash out the final version of the bill that will go to President Obama. The House passed its version of the bill in May, authorizing $635.2 billion.