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Divisive issues in the House defense budget
Friday - 5/18/2012, 2:56pm EDT
(AP) - The House passed a $642 billion defense budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 that adds billions of dollars to President Barack Obama's spending blueprint and rejects several of his proposals. The White House has threatened a veto. A look at some of the bill's disputed provisions:
_Domestic base closings. The Pentagon is calling for another round of closings, but congressional Republicans and Democrats snubbed this proposal in an election year amid questions about the savings from previous rounds.
_War in Afghanistan. Lawmakers rejected an amendment to speed up the withdrawal of U.S. forces, backing the bill's provision that calls on the president to maintain a force of 68,000 combat troops in the country through December 2014. Public support for the conflict recently hit a new low and is on par with support for the Vietnam War in the early 1970s. Only 27 percent of Americans say they back the war effort, and 66 percent oppose the war, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll released last week. Obama favors ending the conflict responsibly, with the United States remaining in the country another two years.
_Missile defense site on the East Coast. The bill would add $100 million to study three possible sites for a missile defense system on the East Coast and complete it by the end of 2015. The cost could be prohibitive. The bill already adds funds for the West Coast missile defense site that has cost $30 billion and counting. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the East Coast site is unnecessary. Since the mid-1980s, the Pentagon has spent nearly $150 billion on missile defense programs and envisions another $44 billion over the next five years for the problem-plagued program.
_Indefinite detention. A law passed last year allows the indefinite detention without trial of suspected terrorists, even U.S. citizens seized within the United States. On Wednesday, a federal court in New York struck down as unconstitutional a portion of the law that gives the government broad powers to regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists. A coalition of Democrats and tea party Republicans failed to roll back the detention provision.
_Overall cost. Republicans backed a deficit-cutting agreement last summer that set spending levels for domestic and defense programs. In March, they abandoned those levels and increased defense by $8 billion while cutting safety-net programs for the poor. The Senate is expected to put together its version of the defense budget that sticks to the deficit-cutting pact.
_Military-Gays. The bill would prohibit same-sex marriages on military installations. Conservatives on the Armed Services Committee remain frustrated with the months-old policy that allows gays to serve openly in the armed services.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)