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Senate on track to pass $700 billion defense policy bill

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 18, 2017

In this Sept. 5, 2017, photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., walks from his Senate office as Congress returns from the August recess in Washington. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
In this Sept. 5, 2017, photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., walks from his Senate office as Congress returns from the August recess in Washington. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
By Richard Lardner Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Senate has approved a defense policy bill that authorizes a $700 billion Pentagon budget.

The measure sailed through the chamber, 89-8, even though lawmakers have yet to agree on a plan for waiving restrictions imposed by a six-year-old law to control government spending.

The Senate bill would provide $640 billion for core Pentagon operations, such as buying weapons and paying troops, and another $60 billion for wartime missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

The budget the Trump administration submitted to Congress sought $603 billion for basic functions and another $65 billion for overseas missions.

With North Korea’s nuclear program a clear threat to the U.S. and its allies, the bill would provide $8.5 billion to strengthen U.S. missile and defense systems. That’s $630 million more than the Trump administration sought for those programs, according to a committee analysis.

North Korea last week conducted its longest-ever test flight of a ballistic missile, firing an intermediate-range weapon over U.S. ally Japan into the northern Pacific Ocean. The launch signaled both defiance of its rivals and a significant technological advance.

There’s also $10.6 billion for 94 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, which is two dozen more of the jet fighters than Trump requested.

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