Speed Reads

Spending

Senate easily approves bill to route a massive $700 billion to the military

The Senate approved late Monday a 1,215-page, $700 billion defense policy bill that would give the Pentagon a larger budget than at any time since at least 2001, when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. The bill now goes to a House-Senate conference committee to work out differences between the House and Senate versions. The Senate's 89-8 vote signifies broad support for raising military spending after years of caps from a bipartisan deal that neither party liked, amid growing threats from North Korea and Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) contention that underfunding training and equipment has contributed to the death or injury of nearly 100 service members in a series of accidents since mid-July.

The defense bill does not close military bases, as Defense Secretary James Mattis had requested, nor would it tackle a series of policy issues like transgender service members or North Korea sanctions, but it does include a government-wide ban on software from Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs. The $640 billion for Pentagon operations like buying weapons and paying troops was $37 billion more than President Trump had requested, but the $60 billion for wartime missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and elsewhere was $5 billion less.