The House today passed a $642 billion defense bill that abandons the deficit-cutting agreement that President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans backed last summer.
On a 299-120 vote, lawmakers backed the spending blueprint that adds $8 billion for the military for next year. The bill calls for a missile defense site on the East Coast that the military opposes and restricts the ability of the president to reduce the arsenal of nuclear weapons under a 2010 treaty with Russia. It also preserves ships and aircraft that the Pentagon wanted to retire in a cost-cutting move.
Lawmakers also rejected the military's request for another round of domestic base closings. The White House has threatened a veto, as Republicans made wholesale changes in Obama's budget proposal.
Alabama 5th District Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, voted in favor of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes three amendments he sponsored.
"The first amendment prevents the White House from sharing our missile defense technologies, particularly hit-to-kill technologies, with the Russian Federation as the President has previously expressed a desire to do," Brooks said in a statement. "These valuable technologies should not be surrendered to Russia in light of their recent aggressive statements about attacking U.S.-led NATO missile sites, and because these technologies could also then be shared with hostile nation states such as North Korea and Iran."
Another amendment repeals a regulation that allowed the Department of Defense to move production of steel plate, used in armor, outside the U.S. And he said the third amendment will "ensure that the Air Force's New Entrant Launch Vehicle Certification program doesn't supplant their current launch system with unproven or experimental systems."
In debate earlier, Brooks was among those who successfully called for protecting the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system from an amendment that would hav cut $403 million from the program. GMD, for which Boeing in Huntsville is prime contractor, is currently the only system providing missile defense protection to the U.S. homeland.
"Russia's most senior military leader recently threatened to pre-emptively attack U.S.-led NATO missile defense sites in Europe should America not kowtow to Russian demands," Brooks said. "In light of these threats, and others from North Korea and Iran, a strong missile defense system is vital to the safety and security of America and American troops deployed overseas.
"And GMD works. ... GMD is critical to America's national security. GMD must be adequately funded," he said.
Earlier Friday, the House reaffirmed the indefinite detention of suspected terrorists, even of U.S. citizens captured on American soil.
A coalition of Democrats and tea party Republicans fell short in their effort to end the controversial policy established last year and based on the post-Sept. 11 authorization for the use of military force that allows indefinite detention of enemy combatants.
The House rejected an amendment by Reps. Adam Smith, D-Wash., and Justin Amash, R-Mich., that would have barred indefinite detention and rolled back mandatory military custody. The vote was 238-182.
The spending blueprint calls for money for aircraft, ships, weapons, the war in Afghanistan and a 1.7 percent pay raise for military personnel, billions of dollars more than Obama proposed.
The bill snubs the Pentagon's budget that was based on a new military strategy shifting focus from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to future challenges in Asia, the Mideast and in cyberspace. The bill spares aircraft and ships slated for retirement, slows the reduction in the size of the Army and Marine Corps and calls for construction of a new missile defense site on the East Coast.
A Democratic effort to stick to last year's deficit-cutting pact and cut $8 billion from the bill failed Friday on a 252-170 vote.
During Thursday's debate, Republicans insisted they're stronger on defense than Obama.
Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, railed against "the secret deal the president has with the Russians to weaken our missile defense," a reference to Obama being caught on an open microphone in March telling then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more room to negotiate after the November election.
The White House wrote to Turner on April 13, insisting that in pursuing cooperation with Russia, "We have been clear that we will not agree to any constraints limiting the development or deployment of United States missile defenses."
The GOP effort to make Obama's national security record an issue in the campaign has made little headway. Opinion surveys show Americans give the president high marks on defense after the killing of Osama bin Laden, repeated drone attacks against suspected terrorists and a weakened al-Qaida and an end to the Iraq war.
Republicans, in a further assault on Obama's authority, on Friday secured approval for an amendment prohibiting the president from making any unilateral reductions to U.S. nuclear forces. The vote was 241-179.