Senate Armed Services Committee advances $740B defense policy bill

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June 11 (UPI) -- The Senate Armed Services Committee said Thursday that it has advanced a $740.5 billion defense policy bill in a bipartisan vote.

The panel voted 25-2 for the National Defense Authorization Act, supporting $740.5 billion in fiscal year 2021 funding for national defense, in a closed-door meeting Wednesday.

The committee's approval means that the bill will head to the Senate floor.

The vote was "overwhelmingly bipartisan," the Senate Committee on Armed Services Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and ranking member, Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, said in a statement.

The committee adopted 229 bipartisan amendments after considering 391, according to the statement.

Among those amendments, was one requiring the Pentagon to rename military bases that were named after Confederate leaders.

The naming of the bases after Confederate leaders has come under renewed national scrutiny after the killing of George Floyd, 46, on Memorial Day, during an arrest by Minneapolis police officers, responding to a report of a man passing a counterfeit bill at a store. Video of a white officer kneeling on the neck of the unarmed black man for nearly nine minutes as he was dying sparked worldwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality.

U.S. Army posts in question were named decades after the end of the Civil War.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon moved about 1,600 active-duty Army troops to help authorities respond to protests sparked after Floyd was killed if needed.

The threat to deploy the military in response to protesters has sparked backlash, reflected in another amendment to the NDAA, which bars the use of troops against protesters.

Still, most of the bill's funding is designated for the usual defense issues, including a base defense budget of 636.4 billion within the Department of Defense. Other funds designated include $25.9 billion for national security programs within the Department of Energy, $69 billion for Overseas Contingency Operation and $8.15 billion for military construction.

The bill also includes a 3 percent pay raise for troops that the administration requested.

"The bipartisan NDAA is a needed step toward strengthening national security and prioritizing national defense resources," the ranking member, Reed said in the statement. "It provides our troops with a well-deserved pay raise and tools to protect the health and well-being of our forces and their families. I commend Chairman Inhofe for his bipartisan leadership, collaboration, and commitment to ensuring our troops have a budget and policies to match their extraordinary courage and sacrifice."

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