Senate passes bill including funds for Afghan war
Seeking to place curbs on military response to sexual assaults and reinforcing the Pentagon's ability to help destroy Syria's chemical weapons, the bill was passed by an 84-15 vote after 30 hours of debate.
The measure gives Pentagon a base budget of $526.8 billion for 2014 fiscal year -- $28 billion more than the $498 billion agreed under the bipartisan deal approved by Congress.
One proposed change, called the Shea-Porter amendment, is aimed to address the problem of Afghanistan imposing taxes on Department of Defense assistance. Kabul is said to have levied almost a billion dollars in taxes on US assistance to Afghanistan since 2008.
The amendment says an amount equivalent to 100% of the total taxes assessed by the Afghan government on that assistance be withheld from funds appropriated for that country for the succeeding year to the extent that such taxes have not been reimbursed.
The provision requires the Department of Defense to submit a report on contractor compliance in Afghanistan. The report must include a detailed discussion of any outstanding contractor compliance issues or concerns.
The bill allocates some $552.1 billion for military spending on bases and equipment as well as troop training and resources, and allows for a one percent raise in military personnel's salaries.
It includes about 30 measures dealing with the issue of sexual assault in the military and a provision to toughen prosecutions, although victims' advocates complained the protections did not go far enough.
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