Obama signs 2010 US defence budget

Bill cuts costly defence projects and contains expansion to federal hate crime laws.

    Obama, right, said that the defence bill had
    reduced 'waste and inefficiency' [EPA]

    Hate crimes definition

    In the 2010 budget, funding has been cut to no-bid contracts and several defence contracts that have cost far more than anticipated due to protracted delays.

    The bill also terminates programmes such as Future Combat Systems, which was the US army's main modernisation plan, and the airborne laser, a missile defence system mounted inside a Boeing 747-400 aircraft.

    Funding has also been terminated to the Lockheed-Martin VH-71 presidential helicopter, which was forecast to cost almost as much as the current Air Force One set-up. 

    The bill also contained an expansion to the definition of federal hate crimes, to include criminal acts based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

    "After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we've passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray or who they are," Obama said.

    The expansion to the hate crimes law had been sought by civil rights and gay rights groups but conservatives had opposed it, saying that it could silence groups or individuals who are opposed to homosexuality on religious or philosophical grounds.

    The measure is named in honour of Matthew Shepard, the gay Wyoming college student who was murdered 11 years ago.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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