© Larry Downing/Reuters
Twenty-one Senate Democrats voted in favor of the NDAA, a controversial military spending bill the White House wants to veto, giving its supporters a 70-27 majority sufficient to override President Barack Obama's opposition.
In a vote Wednesday afternoon, the Senate adopted the Conference Report accompanying House Resolution 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2016. The bill authorizes $612 billion in Pentagon funding
. The "conference report" is the final version of a bill negotiated between the Senate and the House of Representatives through a Conference Committee. Last Thursday, the House approved the NDAA with a 270-156 vote, 20 short of a veto-proof majority.
The bill was sent to President Barack Obama, who previously threatened to veto it. However, he may find it more difficult to do after it passed the Senate with a veto-proof majority.
One major issue Obama cited in his opposition to the NDAA is that the lawmakers sought to avoid the budget cap on defense spending by adding about $38 billion to the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund
, a special account reserved for bankrolling wars.
The second bone of contention is the lawmakers' refusal to allow the closure of the notorious detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
No to closing Gitmo
Subtitle D (Sections 1031-1040) of the NDAA blocks Obama's initiative to close down "Gitmo." It prohibits the use of funding to build facilities for Guantanamo inmates inside the US, their transfer to US soil, or release to countries of origin or third countries until a number of onerous conditions are met
. One such condition calls for the Department of Defense to submit a detailed plan for all individuals held at Guantanamo, and for Congress to approve it.