Senate Passes $607B Defense Authorization Act
November 11, 2015
The Senate voted to pass the bipartisan $607B Defense Authorization Act on Tuesday; Obama Administration announced that it will continue its fight in the Supreme Court to allow immigrants who enter the U.S. illegally as children to receive “deferred action” to be eligible for work; U.S. Department of Justice finalizing guidance for how/when American companies would face violations of foreign corruption laws.
- The Senate voted 91-3 to pass the bipartisan $607 billion Defense Authorization Act on Tuesday, sending it to the White House for a second attempt at presidential approval, as President Obama said that he would not veto the legislation. The bill satisfies his administration’s primary concern of having equal increases to both defense and nondefense funding, which it does with $80 billion in appropriations over the next two years, though it does not address the president’s desire to decommission the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The increase in funding is the first that the department has received since the sequester went into effect in 2013 and froze spending at 2011 levels. The three votes against the bill came from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (R-OR), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Meanwhile, President Obama is expected to release a revised proposal to Congress for closing the Cuban prison in the coming week, though the White House has said the facility cannot be closed without moving some terrorist inmates to domestic detention centers, which many Republican legislators oppose. In addition to failing to close Guantanamo Bay, the bill leaves in measures that Pentagon leadership did not endorse, including the forced retirement of the A-10 Warthog, but the measure does reform the military retirement system to provide benefits to as many as 83% more veterans. [WSJ]
- The Obama administration announced that it will continue in the Supreme Court its fight to carry out the president’s 2012 executive order that allows immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children to receive “deferred action” status to be eligible to work legally. A federal circuit court struck down the order in February while the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans voted 2-1 on Monday to uphold the lower court’s decision on President Obama’s actions. The initial lawsuit was brought against the administration by attorney generals in 25 states, led by Texas, claiming that their states would be adversely impacted by allowing the undocumented migrants to continue working illegally. The administration, represented by Solicitor General Donald Verrilii, has maintained that the state attorney generals have failed to produce concrete evidence as to how exactly their home jurisdictions would be negatively affected. [Politico]
- The U.S. Justice Department is finalizing new guidance for how and when American companies would be forced to plead guilty for violations of foreign corruption laws, as well as how to avoid the outcome. The Justice Department will provide clarification to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, which currently allows companies to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement instead of pleading guilty, thus allowing them to avoid more serious charges if they do not commit further offenses over a certain period of time. The department has been accused of not pursuing enough guilty pleas from companies that commit wrongdoing. [FT]