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Senate Sends Defense Bill to White House

FILE - U.S. soldiers from the 2nd battalion, 32nd Field Artillery brigade listen to their superiors' orders before going on a patrol in Baghdad.
The U.S. Senate is sending President Barack Obama a comprehensive defense bill that would provide a one percent pay raise for military personnel and offer new protections for victims of sexual assault in the armed forces.

The Senate passed the measure 84 to 15 late Thursday, following last week's approval by the House of Representatives.

The bill would provide about $552 billion in defense spending and nearly $81 billion for overseas operations, including the war in Afghanistan.

It also provides new flexibility for deciding the fate of terrorism suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, although it does not achieve the president's goal of closing the prison altogether.

The anti-sexual assault measures include stripping military commanders of their ability to overturn jury convictions, requiring a civilian review if a commander declines to prosecute a case, and eliminating the statute of limitations for courts-martial in cases of rape and sexual assault. It would also criminalize retaliation against victims who report sexual assaults.