World / US and Canada

US House passes $633b defense bill

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-12-21 10:01

WASHINGTON -- US House of Representatives on Thursday evening passed the Defense Authorization Act of 2013, and the Senate is expected to pass the $633 billion Pentagon budget on Friday.

The bill passed the House with a 315-107 vote amid chaos over the fiscal cliff negotiations in the US Congress and the threat of drastic defense spending cuts. It is $1.7 billion more than Obama requested.

It was poised to pass the Senate, but the White House has said it would veto the bill over language related to detainee policy.

Although the veto was made to an earlier version of the bill, the threat still stands, White House Spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday.

The bill covers the cost of ships, aircraft, weapons and military personnel as well as the war effort in Afghanistan. It's consisted of 528 billion dollars for the Defense Department's base budget, 17 billion for defense and nuclear programs in the Energy Department and 88 billion for the war in Afghanistan.

The measure tightens sanctions on Iran and increases security for US diplomatic missions after the attack on US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. It also requests the Pentagon to report to Congress regarding the conflict in Syria on possible military options.

Besides, the budget contained two controversial sections relating to arms sales to Taiwan and the Diaoyu Islands, which are China's inherent territories. The two clauses are both written as "sense of Congress," which means they have no binding power over the president.

The first, Section 1281 of the bill, said "it is the sense of Congress that... the president should take steps to address Taiwan's shortfall in fighter aircraft, whether through the sale of F-16 C/D aircraft or other aircraft of similar capability."

The other, Section 1286, said "it is the sense of Congress that" although the US side takes no position on the ultimate sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands, it "acknowledges the administration of Japan" over them.

China has expressed serious concern and firm opposition to the two sections.

In a regular press briefing earlier this month, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islets have always been the inherent territory of China since ancient times.

Hong said the US side has repeatedly stated that it will not take sides on territory disputes between China and Japan, and it "should not send out signals that conflict with each other."

He expressed the hope that Washington would "proceed from the general situation of peace and stability of the region", "keep its words" and "do more things that are conducive to peace and stability in the region."

China also opposes US arms sales to Taiwan. Over recent years, the China-US military dialogues and exchanges have run into several interruptions caused by the United States' arms sales to the Chinese island of Taiwan.

In a press briefing earlier this year, Hong said pushing for weapons sales to Taiwan "severely violates the one-China policy and the three joint communiques between China and the United States, which severely interferes with China's internal affairs."

Hong urged "some US lawmakers" to get rid of Cold War mentality and stop pushing for arms sales to Taiwan and interfering with China's internal affairs.


Most Popular
Hot Topics