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White House says no veto of defense bill
Question of the Day
In a reflection of the uncertainty, House members offered differing interpretations of the military custody and indefinite detention provisions and what would happen if the bill became law.
“The provisions do not extend new authority to detain U.S. citizens,” House Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, California Republican, said during debate.
But Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, said the bill would turn “the military into a domestic police force.”
Frustrated with delays and cost overruns with the troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft program, lawmakers planned to require the contractor, Lockheed Martin, to cover the expense for any extra costs on the next batch and future purchases of the aircraft. The Pentagon envisions buying 2,442 planes for the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, but the price could make it the most expensive program in military history — $1 trillion.
The legislation freezes $700 million for Pakistan until the defense secretary provides Congress a report on how Islamabad is countering the threat of improvised explosive devices.
It would impose tough new penalties on Iran, targeting foreign financial institutions that do business with the country’s central bank. The president could waive those penalties if he notifies Congress that it’s in the interest of national security.
The bill begins a reduction in defense spending, a reality the Pentagon hasn’t faced in the decade since the Sept. 11 attacks. Pentagon spending has nearly doubled in that period, but the deficit-reduction plan that Obama and congressional Republicans backed this summer sets the Defense Department on a budget-cutting course.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and several other GOP defense hawks pledged to return to Washington next month with a plan to avoid automatic across-the-board cuts to defense required in 2013. The failure of the deficit supercommittee last month means $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years, with half from defense.
Defense hawks said the 10 percent cut would hollow out the Pentagon and devastate U.S. military readiness.
• Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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