The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act cleared Congress Thursday. The legislation includes final approval for a new headquarters for the U.S. Strategic Command in Nebraska.
The $662-billion defense bill passed the senate by a vote of 86-13. It authorizes money for military personnel, weapons systems, and operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The House approved the bill 283-136 Wednesday night.
Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson called the new STRATCOM headquarters a victory for his state and a victory for national security. Nelson chairs the Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee that oversees STRATCOM.
Senator Nelson says construction for the new headquarters is set to begin in 2012. It is a four-year project. It is expected to provide 400 jobs with another 100 jobs associated with it.
Overall, the legislation is $27 billion less than President Obama wanted for the Pentagon and other accounts. The White House initially threatened a veto but dropped that warning, saying last-minute congressional changes no longer challenge the president's ability to prosecute the war on terror.
The bill also elevates the Chief of the National Guard to membership in the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. That puts the National Guard on equal status as the four branches of the military.