Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nation Briefs

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nation Briefs

Article excerpt

Lawmakers reach agreement on new bill for defense

House and Senate negotiators reached agreement Tuesday on a $633 billion defense bill that would tighten sanctions on Iran, increase security at diplomatic missions worldwide after the deadly Sept. 11 raid in Libya and presses the military on possible options to end the bloodshed in Syria.

The sweeping policy bill responds to the new threats and upheaval around the globe while still providing billions for the decade-plus war in Afghanistan. It also reflects deficit-driven reductions in federal spending after Pentagon budgets have nearly doubled in the past 10 years.

The bill would authorize $528 billion for the Defense Department's base budget, $17 billion for defense and nuclear programs in the Energy Department and $88.5 billion for the war in Afghanistan.

The top Republicans and Democrats on the Armed Services committees announced completion of the bill at a Capitol Hill news conference in which they highlighted the rare instance of bipartisanship in a divided Congress.

"It can, in fact, be done," said Rep. Adam Smith, of Washington state, the top Democrat on the House panel. "Hopefully we can set an example."

Leahy gets new Senate role Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., formally assumed a position in the presidential line of succession Tuesday, becoming the Senate Pro Tempore after the death of Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii. Vice President Joe Biden administered the oath of office to Leahy, 72, from the Senate rostrum at 11:33 a.m., with Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., standing behind him.

At least 28 senators, seated at their desks, were present for the ceremony and stood to applaud once Leahy took the oath. Leahy shook the hands of Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, as he returned to his seat.

Per tradition, the Senate opened Tuesday morning with a black drape and a dozen white roses placed over Inouye's desk, which is behind Reid's desk and podium and next to desks occupied by Sen. …

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