WASHINGTON, Dec 21 (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress approved
the final version of the annual defense policy bill on Friday,
authorizing $633 billion in defense spending for 2013,
tightening sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program and
beefing up security at U.S. embassies.
The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 81-14 in favor the
National Defense Authorization Act. The vote followed approval
of the legislation by the Republican-controlled House of
Representatives on Thursday and sent the measure to President
Barack Obama for his signature.
The legislation authorizes a Pentagon base budget of $527.5
billion, plus $88.5 billion for overseas operations, primarily
the war in Afghanistan. The base budget includes $17.4 billion
for defense-related nuclear programs at the Department of
The NDAA sets defense policy for the year. While it
authorizes spending levels for different military programs, it
does not appropriate the money. That is done under separate
legislation in the House and Senate.
In addition to authorizing the size of the military budget,
the bill approved a 1.7 percent pay increase for military
personnel and blocked a Pentagon effort to offset rising
healthcare costs for retirees by raising some health insurance
The bill calls for tightening sanctions on Iran because of
its nuclear program, targeting shipbuilding, shipping and energy
sectors for additional restrictions in an effort to boost
pressure on Tehran to abandon its uranium enrichment.
The measure directs Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to
develop and implement a plan to increase the number of Marines
assigned to American embassies and consulates worldwide by up to
The move aims to bolster diplomatic security following the
deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other
Americans in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
The bill eases restrictions on the export of satellites to
help U.S. manufacturers, who have seen their global share of the
market shrink to less than 25 percent from 65 percent 15 years
ago, officials said.
It also allows the Pentagon to continue its efforts to
develop biofuels, rejecting a House attempt to prevent the
purchase of fuels that are more expensive than petroleum.
The measure prohibits a final U.S. payment of $400.9 million
for development of the Medium Extended Air and Missile Defense
System, known as MEADS, which is being developed by Lockheed
Martin with partners in Italy and Germany.
Lawmakers say Washington has no plans to produce the system,
which has been in development for a decade at a cost of $4
billion. But officials say termination fees may nearly equal the
cost of completing the system and the White House has warned
that failure to approve the funding could hurt ties with allies.
The final measure also extends restrictions blocking any
administration effort to imprison Guantanamo detainees in the