WASHINGTON — The House on Friday overwhelmingly passed a $649 billion defense spending bill that boosts the Pentagon budget by $17 billion and covers the costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The House rejected a measure sponsored by Rep. Kucinich that would have prohibited funds for the U.S. military to continue its limited role in Libya. he strong bipartisan vote was 336-87 and reflected lawmakers' intent to ensure national security, preserve defense jobs across the nation and avoid deep cuts while the country is at war.
While House Republican leaders slashed billions from all other government agencies, the Defense Department is the only one that will see a double-digit increase in its budget beginning Oct. 1.
Amid negotiations to cut spending and raise the nation's borrowing limit, the House rejected several amendments to cut the Pentagon budget, including a measure by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., to halve the bill's increase in defense spending. "We are at a time of austerity. We are at a time when the important programs, valid programs, are being cut back," Frank said.
Scoffing at the suggestion that "everything is on the table" in budget negotiations between the Obama administration and congressional leaders, Frank said, "The military budget is not on the table. The military is at the table, and it is eating everybody else's lunch."