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National Defense Authorization Act Receives Bipartisan Support In Senate

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Despite a last-minute dispute over amendments, a massive defense policy bill easily cleared the Senate with bipartisan support in a vote on Tuesday.

The Senate voted 85 to 13 in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes $602 billion in defense spending in fiscal 2017.

Six Republican Senators and seven Democratic Senators voted against the legislation, while two Senators did not vote on the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., said the bill will better prepare the current administration and the next one to deal with threats like the terrorist group known as ISIS.

"It will provide our men and women in uniform with more of the tools they need to take on these threats," McConnell said. "It will strengthen our military posture."

He added, "In short, it will enhance our ability to take on the challenges currently facing us and better prepare us for those we'll face in the future—all while supporting our soldiers with better benefits, improved health care, and pay raises they've earned."

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., also praised passage of the bill but expressed regret that the Senate was unable to debate and vote on several critical amendments.

McCain said he was particularly disappointed the bill did not include an amendment that would have increased the number of special immigrant visas for Afghans who worked with U.S. forces.

"Too often throughout this process, a single senator was able to bring the Senate's work on our national defense to a halt," McCain said. "This was a breakdown in the decorum of the Senate, and one that will have serious consequences."

While the Senate bill received bipartisan support, the legislation still faces a number of hurdles, including a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

The White House said the administration strongly objects to many provisions in the bill that would hinder the Defense Department's ability to execute the president's defense strategy.

A separate bill was also approved by the House last month, requiring lawmakers to reach an agreement on how to merge the competing proposals.

In a potential area of contention, the Senate bill includes a provision that would require women to register for the draft.

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