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House Ignores Obama And Passes Defense Bill With War On Terror Funds

The House passed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act by a landslide 278-149 vote Thursday.

As late as Tuesday, the White House reaffirmed that if the House passed the bill with $88.4 billion placed in an emergency war fund, it would earn President Barack Obama’s veto. Legislators appeared to pay little attention to the threat, The Hill reports.

Five Republicans withheld their votes for the massive $578.6 billion dollar defense budget, and only 43 Democrats supported the legislation.

Legislators dug through amendments for two days before holding the final vote, rejecting a proposal from Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff by 196-231 to prohibit the use of funds for airstrikes, unless Congress formally authorized war against the Islamic State. Even if it passed, that prohibition wouldn’t have kicked in until March 2016. Others warned it would impede the war effort, which is considered by the Obama administration to be an extension of authorizations from 2001 and 2002 for the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Also rejected was a Democratic effort to reverse a prohibition on funding to close Guantanamo Bay. The closure of the prison facilities is another element of contention between Congress and the White House.

The House did approve two amendments from Republican Rep. Randy Forbes to save the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund, which in effect siphons off funds from the other services to pay for ballistic missile submarines, as it does not function like OCO funds. (RELATED: Navy’s Slippery Slope Shipbuilding Fund Robs Peter To Pay Paul In Budget)

The submarine industry thrives in Forbes’ home district.

Lawmakers made $8.4 billion in funding available for 65 F-35s, even though the Pentagon only requested 57, and saved the A-10, despite the Air Force’s aggressive attempts this year to sideline the aircraft. The bill also gives servicemembers a 2.3 percent raise, instead of the 1.3 percent proposed by Obama.

“This is a strong defense bill that provides our troops with the resources they need and the raise they have earned,” House Speaker John Boehner said. “It reflects the reality of a dangerous world, including resources to combat cyberattacks.”

The Senate is set to take up its version of the defense bill starting next week where it will likely face a Democratic filibuster, in order to force the GOP to hike spending on domestic programs.

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