Wire: Lawmakers Defy Obama, Approve Defense Bill
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2009 -- Newswire services last night reported that, despite a veto threat by President Barack Obama, the House on Thursday easily passed a major defense policy bill that calls for continued development of an alternative engine for the Pentagon's next-generation F-35 fighter.
The Associated Press said the bill, passed by a 281-146 vote, also prohibits the Obama administration from transferring any detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba to the U.S. until 45 days after the administration submits a comprehensive plan for closing the prison.
The measure, which also includes a 3.4 percent pay increase for the military that was a half-percentage point more than Obama wanted, now goes to the Senate.
AP said, while the bill challenges the administration on jet engines and Guantanamo prisoners, Defense Secretary Robert Gates prevailed in killing the F-22 fighter program.
The bill also contains unrelated legislation strengthening federal hate crimes laws for gays. That concerned many Republicans, who said the strictly military bill shouldn't carry social legislation.
Obama's veto threat involves a program to develop an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Air Force's multi-mission fighter for the future.
AP said lawmakers have parsed the Obama threat and decided not to take it seriously.
On Guantanamo, Republicans were on the losing end of a 216-208 vote aimed at blocking any transfer of detainees into the U.S. Thirty-four Democrats broke ranks to support the idea.(Report from newswire sources.)
Republicans were irate that the so-called hate crimes legislation was attached to the bill. It would give people attacked because of their sexual orientation or gender federal protections and significantly expand the reach of hate crimes law.
[. . .]
"I'm in a dilemma today," said Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, adding that enclosing the hate crimes legislation in a bill supporting the U.S. military would force people to vote against their beliefs.
"It is simply inappropriate to use a defense bill as a vehicle for divisive, liberal social policies wholly unrelated to our country's national security," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.