The Republican-led House Friday overwhelmingly backed a $611 billion defense policy bill that rejects a number of President Barack Obama’s key proposals for managing the nation’s vast military enterprise.
Lawmakers passed the legislative package, 375-34. The bill now goes to the Senate where a vote is expected early next week.
The bill, crafted after weeks of talks between House and Senate negotiators, prohibits Obama from following through on his longstanding campaign pledge to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The bill also bars the Pentagon from reducing the number of military bases even though senior U.S. defense officials said there is excess capacity, and it awards U.S. troops their largest pay raise in six years. Obama had recommended a smaller pay increase.
The bill would prevent the Pentagon from forcing thousands of California National Guard troops to repay enlistment bonuses and benefits they received a decade after they signed up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers would have to return a bonus only if a “preponderance of the evidence” shows they knew they weren’t eligible to receive the money.
A goal close to Obama’s heart — which Republicans and some Democrats thwarted time and again — is “to close the detention facility at Guantanamo, which he called a recruiting tool for extremist groups.”
Trump on the other hand has pledged to not only keep Guantanamo open, but to “load it up with some bad dudes.”