Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wire: Obama Signs Defense Spending Bill With Hate Crimes Rider

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

Lawmaker says Pentagon should prep for "painful" cuts.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2009 -- Newswire services this evening reported that President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed a defense bill that kills some weapons projects and expands war efforts. Lawmakers also attached major civil rights legislation to the bill that makes it a federal hate crime to assault people based on sexual orientation.

The $680 billion spending bill doesn't provide any actual funding. Rather, it sets guidance that is typically followed by congressional committees that decide appropriations. Obama hailed it as a step toward ending "needless military spending."

Still, the president said he was putting his name to a bill that had waste.

The Hill Web site reported that Sen. Jack Reed (Democrat, R.I.), a senior defense authorizer, on Wednesday said that the Pentagon will have to face “painful adjustments” in its budget.
"There is going to be significant pressure on the defense budget going forward. […] I do not think there is going to be much relief on the personnel front … so the likely path is to push and delay platforms that you do not think are absolutely essential," he said. Additionally, he said, weapons programs that continue likely will have to be reduced and bought in smaller numbers, in what will be "painful adjustments" for the Department of Defense.
The defense bill also expands current hate crimes law to include violence based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. The Associated Press noted that in order to assure its passage after years of frustrated efforts, Democrats attached the measure to the must-pass defense bill over the steep objections of many Republicans.

The legislation also approves Obama's $130 billion request as the latest installment of money toward the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bill also prohibits the Obama administration from transferring any detainee being held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba to the U.S. for trial until 45 days after it has given notice to Congress. Guantanamo prisoners could not be released into the U.S.

(Report from newswire sources.)

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