July 20, 2012 - 19:47 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - U.S. lawmakers passed a sweeping $606 billion defense bill that exceeds a budget cap and faces a veto threat from the White House for failing to sufficiently rein in spending, AFP reported.
The bill would provide $518 billion for the Pentagon and an additional $88.5 billion for overseas contingency operations, specifically the war in Afghanistan and counterterrorism efforts, for the fiscal year that begins October 1.
The 2013 Defense Department spending bill had originally come in at $519 billion, an increase of $1 billion over 2012 spending, but in a surprise move just before the final vote lawmakers approved an amendment bringing the spending into line with current figures.
It's still roughly $2 billion more than President Barack Obama requested, and about $8 billion above the cap set by last year's Budget Control Act.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed Thursday's bill by a vote of 326-90. Democrats and Republicans are promising a major budget tussle this election year as the two sides square off over whether to raise taxes for wealthy Americans as well as slash federal spending in a bid to pare down the skyrocketing debt.
U.S. lawmakers failed to reach a deal last year over how to reduce the long-term deficit by $1.2 trillion, and default spending cuts are scheduled to kick in next January that could see the defense budget slashed by an additional $50 billion in 2013.