Senate defense subcommittee approves $594 billion Pentagon bill

July 30, 2013 at 2:42 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 30 (UPI) -- The Senate defense subcommittee approved a $594.4 billion bill Tuesday that keeps Pentagon spending in 2014 at pre-sequestration levels.

The bill includes $516.4 billion in base defense spending and $77.8 billion for war spending. It follows the same path as three other defense spending bills in Congress this year.

If sequestration is not averted, the Pentagon's 2014 budget will be lessened by $52 billion, the Washington newspaper The Hill reported.

Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, warned the Pentagon would face more pain in 2014 than it did in 2013 if the issue of sequestration were considered, pointing out, "Civilian workers will have to be laid off rather than simply furloughed."

The bill offers President Barack Obama more discretion to transfer Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainees, Durbin noted.

There has been a bipartisan push for change at the island facility following hunger strikes and forced feeding of detainees, coupled with the cost of maintaining the facility, Politico said.

"We are spending $2.7 million a year for each detainee held at Guantanamo Bay," Durbin said during a recent Judiciary Committee hearing. "This would be fiscally irresponsible during ordinary economic times but it's even worse when the Department of Defense is struggling to deal with the impact of sequestration, including the furloughs and cutbacks in training for our troops."

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