House passes $570 billion defense spending bill

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. House of Representative on Friday voted 340-73 to pass a defense spending bill for fiscal year 2015 that begins on Oct. 1.

H.R. 4870 funds military personnel, defense technology research and equipment procurement for $491 billion with $79.4 billion for war. It is $4.1 billion more than the current spending level and $201.8 million above the Obama administration’s budget request.

The bill provides $975 million for 12 U.S. Navy radar jammers, $800 million for refueling of the carrier the USS George Washington, $10.2 billion to build combat vehicles for the Army, and $2.4 billion for building 87 UH-60 Black Hawks helicopters.

Some 80 amendments were proposed for the bill and these were debated over three days at 10 minutes per amendment. Inserted amendments include limits on the National Security Agency’s ability to conduct warrantless surveillance on U.S. citizens. It also bars intelligence agencies from using any funds in the bill for building private back doors into their services or products to allow for government surveillance.

Another inserted amendment punishes the administration for failing to notify Congress before swapping five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison for captured U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl. Another provision bars any spending to release or transfer detainees from the prison to their country of origin or to any other foreign country.

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