US Congress approves military spending bill

Legislation authorises training for Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIL and sets overall defence spending at $577bn.

The bill includes $1.6bn for a programme to equip and train Iraqi Kurdish forces for two years [EPA]

The US Congress has adopted a US defence spending bill for 2015 that will expand the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and sets overall defence spending at $577bn.

The legislation approved on Friday includes American training for Iraqi troops and moderate Syrian rebels fighting the armed group. and emergency funding for military operations against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

The legislation passed 89 votes to 11 in the Senate a week after the House of Representatives last week endorsed the measure. It outlines $584.2bn in federal military spending for fiscal year 2015, which began on October 1.

The National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) was a culmination of months of negotiations.

It includes Obama’s $5bn request for funds to battle ISIL, including $3.4bn for deployment of US forces as part of operation “Inherent Resolve,” and $1.6bn for a programme to equip and train Iraqi Kurdish forces for two years.

The authorisation includes $63.7bn for overseas operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

Among the bill’s hundreds of provisions, the measure provides for a one percent pay raise for uniformed personnel, expands sexual assault prevention and response provisions, and requires the military to provide annual mental health screenings for servicemembers. 

“This bill includes a pay raise for members of the Armed Services, it enhances our efforts to keep our warfighters safe on the battlefield, and it authorises the resources needed to responsibly conclude our combat mission in Afghanistan,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement.

Obama’s request for $520m for the State Department’s humanitarian and diplomatic efforts was also included.

But despite opposition from Obama, the bill extends restrictions on closing the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A ban on transferring detainees to the United States, in force since 2011, was renewed.

Source: News Agencies

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