Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Senate expected to approve sweeping defense bill

WASHINGTON — A comprehensive defense bill that would crack down on sexual assault in the military and add protections for victims headed toward Senate passage Thursday.

The White House expressed support for the legislation, which would provide $552.1 billion for the regular military budget and $80.7 billion for the war in Afghanistan and other overseas operations, a reflection of deficit-driven efforts to trim spending and the drawdown in a conflict lasting more than a decade.

The bill would give President Barack Obama additional flexibility in deciding the fate of terror suspects at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but it stops well short of the administration's goal of closing the installation.

"Although the bill includes a number of provisions that restrict or limit the Defense Department's ability to align military capabilities and force structure with the president's strategy and implement certain efficiencies, overall the administration is pleased with the modifications and improvements" that address its objections to earlier versions, the White House said in a statement.

The House overwhelmingly passed the bill last week on a strong bipartisan vote. Senate passage was expected Thursday night.

The legislation would:

• Authorize a 1 percent pay raise for military personnel and cover combat pay and other benefits.

• Strip military commanders of their ability to overturn jury convictions, require a civilian review if a commander declines to prosecute a case and require that any individual convicted of sexual assault face a dishonorable discharge or dismissal. The bill also would provide victims with legal counsel, eliminate the statute of limitations for courts-martial in rape and sexual assault cases, and criminalize retaliation against victims who report a sexual assault.

Senate expected to approve sweeping defense bill 12/19/13 [Last modified: Thursday, December 19, 2013 10:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. McConnell trying to revise the Senate health care bill by Friday

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is aiming to send a revised version of his health care bill to the Congressional Budget Office as soon as Friday as he continues to push for a vote before Congress' August recess.

    Protesters rally against the Senate Republican health care bill Wednesday on the east front of the Capitol building.
  2. Police raise likely death toll in London high-rise blaze

    World

    LONDON — The number of people killed or presumed dead in the London high-rise fire has inched up to 80, but the final death toll may not be known for months, British police said at a grim briefing Wednesday.

  3. Rick Baker gives himself a "B" in 1st debate against Rick Kriseman

    Blogs

    Rick Baker gave himself a “B” in his first debate against Mayor Rick Kriseman.

    Rick Baker chats with supporters at a fundraiser at St. Petersburg Yacht Club Wednesday evening
  4. Companies, governments assess damage from latest malware attack

    World

    PARIS — Companies and governments around the world on Wednesday counted the cost of a software epidemic that has disrupted ports, hospitals and banks. Ukraine, which was hardest hit and where the attack likely originated, said it had secured critical state assets — though everyday life remained affected, …

  5. Details of Trump's travel ban still being finalized

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — Senior officials from the departments of State, Justice and Homeland Security labored Wednesday to finalize rules for visitors from six mostly Muslim nations who hope to avoid the Trump administration's revived travel ban and come to the United States.