WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to pass a new version of the National Defense Authorization Act with $5 billion in spending cuts not included in a version of the legislation vetoed by President Barack Obama.
The vote was 370-58 for the measure authorizing more than $600 billion in defense spending. It had strong support from Republicans and Obama’s fellow Democrats, even though it still contains language that would make it difficult to close the controversial detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – This year’s U.S. State Department human trafficking report was not watered down because of concerns about how it might affect trade deals or diplomatic relations, State Department officials said on Wednesday.
Members of a House of Representatives subcommittee grilled State officials at a hearing about the Trafficking in Persons report, which has raised concerns that politics trumped human rights in the rankings of countries such as Malaysia and Cuba. (1.usa.gov/1l3GLxb)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Israel has made an initial request for its annual U.S. defence aid to increase to as much as $5 billion (£3.25 billion) when its current aid package, worth an average $3 billion a year, expires in 2017, U.S. congressional sources said on Wednesday.
Israel wants $5 billion per year in military aid for 10 years, for a total of $50 billion, the congressional aides said. It has been signalling that it wants more money to counter threats it says will arise as a result of the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme, which Israel’s government has staunchly opposed.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Eighty-five to 90 percent of Russian strikes in Syria have hit the moderate Syrian opposition, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East told a congressional committee on Wednesday.
Russia boosted its military support for President Bashar al-Assad’s fight against rebels in the four-and-a-half year Syrian civil war, beginning air strikes last month that it said would also target the Islamic State militant group.
John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, has some advice for his party’s 2016 White House hopefuls unhappy with last week’s CNBC debate: “I think their complaints are legitimate, but come on, man up and move on. I think it’s OK if the temperature isn’t exactly 67 degrees,” McCain told reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.
Did the Arizona senator have his own debate requests during his unsuccessful campaign against Democrat Barack Obama? “No,” he almost snorted. “I should have. I don’t know why I didn’t. Maybe I’d have done better. I should have said, ‘Barack Obama’s only allowed one answer. How’s that?’ It never crossed my mind, to tell you the truth,” McCain added.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama plans to deploy a small number of special operations forces to Syria to advise moderate rebels, U.S. sources said, a step he has long resisted to avoid getting dragged into another war in the Middle East.
The number of special operations troops was likely to be in the range of 20 to 30, said one U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity. A second source confirmed the plan but declined to provide a number.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican and Democratic lawmakers vowed on Thursday to push for the ratification of eight tax treaties which have been held up for years because of one Republican senator’s objections, despite support from companies that want consistency in rules for how to do international business.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky objects to the agreements for privacy reasons, saying they would allow more inter-governmental sharing of financial information on citizens.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers will trim a sweeping defense policy bill to comply with a budget deal with the White House, but will not change language in the measure restricting efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said on Wednesday.
Republican U.S. Representative Mac Thornberry said he did not yet know exactly how the $612 billion National Defense Authorization Act would be trimmed to accommodate $5 billion in military spending cuts in the budget accord.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The budget deal with Congress could complicate President Barack Obama’s push to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, which has been caught up in his fight with Republicans over spending caps, congressional aides and rights activists said on Tuesday.
Obama last week vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act, objecting to the way the massive policy bill used money meant for war spending to avoid defense budget cuts, as well as provisions making it more difficult to close the Guantanamo prison.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some congressional Republicans who voted against a sweeping defense policy bill would consider voting to override President Barack Obama’s veto of the measure, three members of the Freedom Caucus, one of the party’s most conservative groups, told Reuters on Monday.
Representatives Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan and Mick Mulvaney, founders of the influential group, told Reuters in an interview that Republicans are in an all-out push to muster the two-thirds majorities in both the House of Representatives and Senate to override the veto.