The House approved a huge spending bill for the Department of Defense on Wednesday. According to The Hill, the bill included language to impose some limits on US military action overseas, but none on curbing National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance, despite recent, widespread outrage over NSA methods.
The bill passed with a 315-109 vote, with 95 Democrats joining Republicans to push the legislation through. It allots $512.5 billion for non-war funding and $82.3 billion for war operations for 2014, and sets aside $580 million for pay raises for members of the military.
Members of the House accepted an amendment proposed by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), which ensures that no funds in the bill can be used by the NSA to “intentionally target US citizens or store their communications data.” However, other amendments aimed at limiting NSA intelligence activities were struck down, including one that would have revoked NSA’s authority to collect data except from people who are subject to an investigation.
On Tuesday, several proposals to cut billions in military spending in Afghanistan were rejected, but the final bill will cut $140 million from the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund, based on a proposal by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN). Additionally, members passed an amendment from Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) to cut $1 billion from the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund.
Multiple Democratic attempts to allow Guantanamo Bay detainees to be released into the US or other countries were rejected. An amendment from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), which would have prevented any further expansion of Guantanamo facilities, was also rejected.
Military sexual assault has been a rampant issue recently; incidences of sexual assault have increased by more than one third between 2010 and 2012. House members included language in the final spending bill to prohibit the Defense Department from allowing those who have been convicted of rape, sexual assault, or other sex-related crimes to enlist in the military.
President Obama and Democrats have criticized Republicans for overspending on Defense and underspending in other areas such as social programs. On Monday, Republicans unveiled plans for a $24.3 billion Interior and Environment funding proposal, which would mean a 19 percent cut overall for the agencies to which that department allocates funds, and a 34 percent budget cut for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
As the bill has now passed the House, it will move on to the Senate for approval. Democrats have pushed Republicans for a conference with the Senate to agree on a single budget plan; however, based on the lack of congressional progress on other spending bills this year, a compromise and single budget plan seem unlikely.