House Approves NDAA, Rejects Indefinite Detention Plan

The House approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Friday by a 299-120 vote following hours of debate and the consideration of dozens of amendments, including a measure that sought to end indefinite military detention for terrorist suspects caught on U.S. soil.

UPDATE: The House approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Friday by a 299-120 vote following hours of debate and the consideration of dozens of amendments, including a measure that sought to end indefinite military detention for terrorist suspects caught on U.S. soil.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee and co-sponsor of the amendment aimed at stripping presidential power to indefinitely detain suspected terrorists, applauded the bill’s approval but expressed opposition to language dealing with U.S. relations with Russia.

“The language on Russia is particularly troubling,” Smith said in a statement. “Much of the rhetoric during debate on this bill echoed sentiments from 1982, when we were at the height of the Cold War. We are no longer in the Cold War, and we should not be treating Russia like an enemy.”

The bill authorizes $643 billion in Defense spending, an $8 billion uptick from last year’s Budget Control Act and almost $4 billion above levels suggest by President Obama.

Additionally, in approving the NDAA, House Republicans were successful in curbing $487 billion in cuts to Pentagon spending via the Budget Control Act. On top of that, the re-authorization includes language that would offset $50 billion in the first year of sequestration cuts set to take effect in 2013.

Defense Secretary previously denounced the House’s version of the NDAA arguing that it would create partisan gridlock given that a number of provisions included in the House’s bill will face an uphill battle in the Democratic-controlled Senate which will be marking up its authorization bill next week.

This story was updated at 2:20p.m….

WASHINGTON – The House voted Friday to reject legislation that would have barred indefinite military detention of terrorists captured on U.S. soil but passed a bill affirming U.S. citizens would not be denied habeus corpus rights.

Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.) led the effort to strip the president of the power to indefinitely hold suspected terrorists without charging them with crimes and trying them in federal courts. The unorthodox tandem argued that indefinite detention gave the president an incredible amount of power.

But in a 232-182 vote, the House voted to reject their proposal, backing the president’s power to detain terrorists captured in the U.S. Following the vote, Smith said the move was “an extraordinary step” for the country.

“To give the President the power to take away a person’s freedom and lock them up, potentially simply based on allegations, without due process, and without the civil liberties protected by our Constitution, is an extraordinary step,” Smith said in a statement. “Due process rights are designed to protect the innocent and I will continue to work to ensure that we reign in executive powers and protect the Constitution and all those to which it applies

A separate bill sponsored by Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Scott Rigell (R-Va.) and Jeff Landry (R-La.) was passed by a 243-173 margin, affirming U.S. citizens won’t be denied habeus corpus.

Smith and Amash tagged the competing GOP bill as a “smokescreen” and argued that it “doesn’t protect any rights whatsoever.”

“I am also disappointed that the Republican amendment, which was supposedly offered to address the same issue, does nothing to fix the problem,” Smith said. “It was offered solely as a smoke screen to divert attention from our amendment.”

Members who opposed the Smith-Amash proposal argued that granting suspected terrorists due process would create an open invitation for them to come to the U.S.

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Benny Martinez
Benny Martinez is a Capitol Hill Correspondent for TRNS. Follow Benny on Twitter @BennyJMartinez
  • No

    These people are insane. What the current US government is doing goes against every single thing that America stands, or at least stood, for. We are no longer a first world nation, we’re now just another totalitarian police state. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

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