Senate Says New Defense Bill Tailored for Obama

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A new defense-spending bill passed Tuesday addresses the concerns President Barack Obama raised in vetoing the last effort, senators boasted.
     Obama struck down the last National Defense Authorization Act that the Senate passed in October, saying that it circumvented sequester caps put in place by the Budget Control Act by funneling $38 billion into the uncapped Overseas Contingency Operations fund.
     The House of Representatives passed a new bill on Nov. 5 and sent it to the Senate the same day.
     With the new legislation conforming to spending limits put in place by the Bipartisan Budget Agreement, the Senate overwhelmingly passed it today, 91 -3.
     Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., voted against the legislation.
     Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio missed the vote.
     Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., praised the new bill in a floor speech before the vote, saying it stops the Obama administration from moving prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay Prison into the United States.
     “But the bill really hasn’t changed much since then, and the top line has now been settled by the bipartisan budget agreement,” McConnell said, referring to the effort late last month that averted a government shutdown.
     “Either way, we look forward to the Senate passing this essentially unchanged legislation and the President signing the bipartisan bill – along with its restrictions against bringing terrorists into the United States – into law,” McConnell added.
     The bill also authorizes a new medical facility at Fort Knox, reforms programs for military members and their families, and positions the “military to confront the challenges of tomorrow as it offers support to the men and women serving harm’s way today,” McConnell said.
     Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid meanwhile took to Twitter shortly before the vote to highlight the importance of the recent budget deal in ending sequester cuts and allowing a fuller bill to reach the floor.
     Sen. John McCain, R- Ariz., who championed the bill in its first trip through the Senate, spoke about the new agreement after the vote.
     Though skeptical that the new version changed the central concern Democrats had the last time around, McCain said the budget agreement did help bring the bill to the floor.
     “I think it played a role, but it was interesting people objected the first time because of OCO – Overseas Continuing Operations – yet there’s still OCO in it, and they voted for it,” McCain said after the vote.

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