House passes defense bill without base closures





WASHINGTON — The Republican-led House on Friday decisively approved a defense policy bill that declares climate change a threat to national security, demands rigorous oversight of the Pentagon’s cyber operations, and rebuffs the Trump administration’s bid to close excess military bases.

Lawmakers voted, 344 to 81, to pass the sweeping legislation. The bill authorizes $696 billion for managing the nation’s vast military enterprise in the 2018 fiscal year, nearly $30 billion more for core Pentagon operations than President Trump requested.

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Yet defense hawks pushing the hardest for the big boost in spending still face an uphill battle. For the spending increases to materialize, Congress first will have to agree to roll back a 2011 law that set strict limits on military spending.

Getting a deal won’t be easy. Lifting the so-called budget caps will take 60 votes in the Senate and Democrats are seeking to increase the budgets for other government agencies.

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If a budget deal can’t be reached, Congress may be forced to fund the military through the use of stopgap spending bills. Under these short-term agreements, the Pentagon’s budget is set at current levels and the military services are barred from starting new programs.

In a separate development Friday, the White House Office of Management and Budget said worsening tax revenues will cause the federal budget deficit to jump to $702 billion this year. That’s a $99 billion spike from what was predicted less than two months ago.

The defense bill includes a section that says global warming is ‘‘a direct threat to the national security.’’ It’s a potentially surprising addition given Trump’s publicly stated doubts about climate change and his recent decision to pull the country out of the landmark accord aimed at…

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