House OKs de­fense spend­ing mea­sure

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON — House Repub­li­cans and Democrats joined forces to ap­prove an an­nual de­fense pol­icy bill that au­tho­rizes $700 bil­lion for the Pen­tagon and or­ders a more rapid buildup of the na­tion’s mis­sile de­fenses.

On Tues­day, law­mak­ers voted 356-70 to pass the leg­is­la­tion, with 127 Democrats back­ing the mea­sure. Once the de­fense bill clears the Se­nate, which is ex­pected later this week, the bill will be sent to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for his sig­na­ture.

The de­fense bill al­lots just over $634 bil­lion for core Pen­tagon op­er­a­tions and nearly $66 bil­lion for war­time mis­sions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and else­where. The fund­ing boost pays for more troops and weapons the bill’s back­ers say are needed to halt an ero­sion of the mil­i­tary’s com­bat readi­ness.

The leg­is­la­tion in­cludes $12.3 bil­lion for the Pen­tagon’s Mis­sile De­fense Agency to counter the ad­vanc­ing nu­clear threat from North Korea.

Trump’s 2018 re­quest sought $603 bil­lion for ba­sic func­tions and $65 bil­lion for over­seas mis­sions. But se­cur­ing the higher amounts re­mains con­tin­gent upon Congress reach­ing an agree­ment to roll back a 2011 law that set strict lim­its on most fed­eral spend­ing.

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