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Obama signs defense, budget bills into law

Obama signs defense, budget bills into law

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Published : 2013-12-27 20:20
Updated : 2013-12-27 20:20

President Barack Obama on Thursday signed into law the compromised U.S. budget bill recently negotiated by feuding lawmakers and a massive defense bill that takes a step toward ultimate closure of Guantanamo.

After signing the legislation while vacationing in Hawaii with his family, Obama praised the National Defense Authorization Act for allowing accelerated repatriation of detainees from the U.S. naval facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“I am encouraged that this act provides the executive greater flexibility to transfer Guantanamo detainees abroad, and look forward to working with the Congress to take the additional steps needed to close the facility,” Obama said in a statement.

The new law still forbids transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the United States, a restriction Obama opposes.

He said “the continued operation of the facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners and emboldening violent extremists.”

The bill assures $552.1 billion in military spending, as well as $80.7 billion for overseas contingency operations, namely the war in Afghanistan.

It allows for a 1 percent raise for military personnel and requires reforms in the way the Pentagon handles some sexual assaults in the military.

The broader budget agreement also signed by the president lays out top-line spending limits for 2014 and 2015, and erases $63 billion in arbitrary spending cuts that were to take effect Jan. 1.

Critically, it reduces the threat of a government shutdown after Jan. 15, the date by which Democrats and Republicans from both chambers will have to craft a series of spending bills under the new limit. (AFP)

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