The House of Representatives voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act on Thursday, including the $5 billion in spending cuts.
The House voted on Thursday with a 370-58 in favor of the measure that will authorize more than $600 billion in defense spending. The measure includes the $5 billion in spending cuts that was not included in the previous defense bill that was vetoed by resident Barack Obama.
The measure was passed with a strong support by Democrats in the House, even though the measure includes provision that make it very hard to take the next step in closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. More specifically, the provisions make it difficult for the 112 prisoners of war to be transferred to the United States.
However, despite the controversial provisions, the Senate is expected to vote in favor of the bill as soon as next week. According to Reuters, Congressional officials say that Obama will sign the bill into law, despite the Guantanamo restrictions.
President Obama has vowed at the beginning of his first presidency that he will close the Guantanamo prison for good, and is hoping that he will be able to do so before he leaves office in 2017. The Guantanamo provisions were one of the reasons for Obama to veto the previous House bill. Until now, the White House has not threatened with a veto of the current bill, but officials have stated that the President has not ruled out issuing an executive order to close the Guantanamo prison.
According to Reuters, Republicans have stated that such a statement by the White House for issuing an executive order is a wrong policy in the fight against terrorism. Republican Senator Pat Roberts has stated “Why do we even have a Congress if the President can issue an executive order on anything?”
However, Democrats have been pushing for transferring the detainees to a facility in Kansas. This effort has been supported by 28 retired senior U.S. military officers, who have signed an open letter to President Obama, supporting his efforts of closing Guantanamo. According to Reuters, the letter they have signed said “Our prisons house hundreds of convicted terrorists. None has ever escaped.”
The fight over spending policy has continued in the Senate, with Democrats blocking another defense measure on Thursday, specifically the fiscal 2016 appropriations bill. The newly revised National Defense Authorization Act includes the spending cuts, using war funds to allow the Pentagon to avoid mandatory spending cuts. The act was negotiated in agreement with the Obama administration and the Republican led Congress.