Senate defense bill goes for final vote

Senators are poised to approve a massive $700 billion defense bill Monday night, setting the stage for a budget fight on how to fund a major increase in military spending.
The plan, like its counterpart in the House, surpasses budget caps of $549 billion for defense spending and will require new congressional action to be enacted. Without it, the effort could trigger automatic, across-the-board budget cuts.
Opponents have already thwarted earlier efforts to lift or repeal the caps. Among them, Democrats are angling for non-defense spending increases in exchange for a larger defense deal.
“Democrats are thinking they are going to have more leverage” when a budget fight comes later this year, said Lauren Fish, a defense strategies research associate for the Washington think tank Center for a New American Security. “It’s a political game to what is a very serious budgetary problem.”
There’s plenty at stake. For example, the Senate’s version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act proposes pay raises for servicemembers, funding of new ships and aircrafts and boosting missile defense as part of a larger effort to address years of cutbacks and readiness concerns.

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