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US Congress Approves $585 Billion Defense Bill

Capitol Hill (congress) building in Washington, DC. (Diaa Bekheet/VOA)

The U.S. Congress has approved a gigantic defense policy bill.

The $585 billion National Defense Authorization Act was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate Friday, a week after passing in the House of Representatives.

It now awaits President Barack Obama's signature.

The measure authorizes federal military spending for fiscal year 2015, which began on October 1.

It includes emergency funding requested by the president for military operations against Islamic jihadists in Iraq and Syria. The measure also authorizes funds for training moderate Syrian rebels and Iraqi Kurdish forces for two years.

The bill includes money for basic U.S. military operations, ranging from a one percent pay raise for the troops to the purchase of ships, aircraft and other war-fighting equipment.

The NDAA also mandates the retention of the fleet of A-10 close-air support aircraft. The U.S. Air Force had proposed retiring more than 100 A-10s, but the NDAA prohibits that action in 2015.

Despite opposition from Mr. Obama, the bill extends restrictions on closing the US. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, renewing a ban on transferring detainees from Guantanamo to the United States.