House Votes to Preserve a Power of Indefinite Detention
The House on Friday turned back an unusual coalition of liberals and conservatives and voted down legislation to reject explicitly the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects apprehended on United States soil.
House lawmakers then approved a broad defense policy bill that would break Pentagon spending caps agreed to just last summer.
The bill, the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year that begins in October, makes clear that House Republicans — and many Democrats — are opposed to including the Pentagon in the coming era of fiscal austerity. The $642 billion measure, approved 299 to 120, exceeds spending limits enshrined in the Budget Control Act of 2011 by $8 billion.
The measure would thwart the Obama administration’s efforts to close the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and would impede its ability to carry out the nuclear arms reduction treaty ratified by the Senate in 2010.
In one unexpected twist, Democrats on Friday helped pass a conservative Republican’s amendment that would end the permanent deployment of combat brigades in Europe.
“I’ve always felt there could be cuts in defense that don’t in any way compromise defense capability,” said Representative Mike Coffman, Republican of Colorado and a military veteran, who won passage of the cut. Republicans, he said, “tend to focus on spending as a metric of their commitment to defense, sometimes as the only metric.”
Well before the final vote, the White House promised a veto if the final version maintained the House spending levels and tied President Obama’s hands on detainee and nuclear policies. But House Republicans say that the legislation’s bipartisan support should give them leverage at least to demand the cancellation of next year’s automatic across-the-board spending cuts — known as sequestration — when House and Senate negotiators meet to hash out a compromise.