U.S. Congress passes pared-down defense bill

08:42, December 23, 2010      

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The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the 2011 defense authorization bill which cleared the Senate hours earlier, sending it to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The House retook the measure after the Senate made revisions to the language of a House-passed version early Wednesday. The upper chamber stripped one provision about payments to World War II residents and survivors in Guam.

The House approved the Senate's revised bill by unanimous consent. The bill agreed to 725 billion dollars in defense programs, including 158.7 billion dollars for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The defense bill is a compromise between Democrats and Republicans, with almost no controversial items left.

Major provisions that have been stripped from the bill include repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy which prevents gays from serving openly in the military, as well as a provision allowing for abortions to be performed in military hospitals.

The repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" was passed as a stand-alone bill, and was signed by Obama on Wednesday.

The bill also would continue to restrict transfer of military detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison to the United States, a major setback for Obama's effort to close the prison.

Source: Xinhua

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