Washington Digest/Senate approves defense authorization bill
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate last week overwhelmingly approved a $612 billion defense authorization bill over objections from the Obama administration that it evades congressionally mandated spending caps through an accounting loophole.
The measure, which establishes defense policies for the next fiscal year, passed 71-25. Still, Democrats expressed concerns that it includes a nearly $40 billion increase in Overseas Contingency Operations, a war-fighting account that is not subject to automatic budget cuts put in place by the 2011 sequester law.
Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the leading Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, argued increasing the contingency fund amounts to deficit spending, and would increase pressure on Congress to cut spending from domestic programs.