WASHINGTON - The US House of Representatives voted on Friday to approve $649 billion in defense spending next year, overcoming opposition from war-weary lawmakers seeking to curb U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Libya. The measure, approved 336-87 in the Republican-dominated House, would raise the Pentagon's base budget for the 2012 fiscal year beginning on October 1 by about $17 billion over current levels despite intense pressure to slash the $1.4 trillion U.S. deficit.
The House cut about $8 billion from President Barack Obama's overall defense spending request, voting to provide about $530 billion for the Pentagon's base budget and another $119 billion for the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Obama has asked for about $690 billion for military spending for 2012. This House bill does not include funds for U.S. nuclear weapons programs or military construction, which come in other bills and add about $33 billion to military spending.
The House measure includes $5.9 billion to buy 32 of Lockheed Martin's radar-evading F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, $15.1 billion to build 10 Navy ships and $3.3 billion for 28 Boeing F-18 Super Hornet fighter jets and 12 EA-18 Growlers electronic warfare aircraft.
Congress is still weeks away from approving a military spending bill ready for Obama to sign into law. The House bill will have to be combined with whatever measure is approved by the Senate, which has not yet finalized a its defense funding plan. (Reuters)