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Senate approves $700 billion defense bill

[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] on Monday voted 89-8 [roll call] to approve HR 2810 [text, PDF], a $700 billion defense bill, authorizing support for defense programs and combat operations at home and overseas.

Among other things, the bill authorizes appropriations to the Department of Defense [official website] for: 1) procurement, including aircraft, missiles, weapons and tracked combat vehicles, ammunition, shipbuilding and conversion, and space procurement, 2) research, development, test, and evaluation; 3) operation and maintenance; 4) working capital needs 5) the Joint Urgent Operational Needs Fund; 6) chemical agents and munitions destruction; 7) drug interdiction and counter-drug activities; 8) the Defense Inspector General; (9) the Defense Health Program; 10) the Armed Forces Retirement Home; 11) overseas contingency operations; and 12) military construction.

Additionally, the bill authorizes increased personnel strength for active duty and reserve forces for fiscal year 2018, formulates policies concerning compensation and other personnel benefits, and includes provisions banning contract awards to specific contractors such as the Russian firm, Kaspersky Labs [corporate website].

While the bill left unresolved [WP report] many open controversial issues, it received overwhelming bipartisan support. US Senator John McCain [official website] expressed his personal support for the bill stating:

For too long our nation has asked our men and women in uniform to do too much with far too little. ... [W]e are gambling with the lives of the best among us, and we're now seeing the costs. This legislation is only part of the solution. ... We still have no path to actually appropriate the money that we are about to authorize.

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