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Originally published December 21, 2009 at 6:40 PM | Page modified December 22, 2009 at 9:34 AM

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Obama signs $636.3 billion defense-spending bill

President Obama signed into law legislation that provides $636.3 billion for the U.S. military in fiscal 2010, including $128.3 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House announced today.

 

The day in D.C.

Contracts scrutinized: President Obama on Monday touted the federal government's efforts to become more efficient, highlighting a report by the Office of Management and Budget that shows that agencies have identified more than $19 billion in contract savings for fiscal year 2010 as part of an effort to save $40 billion annually by fiscal year 2011. The administration has said the savings will come from terminating unnecessary contracts, ending an over-reliance on contractors and reducing the use of high-risk contracts. Federal spending on contracts has doubled since 2002, reaching $540 billion last year.

New cyber coordinator: Obama has chosen Howard Schmidt, a longtime computer-security executive with extensive ties to the corporate world, as national cybersecurity coordinator to take on the formidable task of organizing and managing the nation's increasingly vulnerable digital networks.

First flu shots: Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have received their swine-flu shots, Obama said Monday. Their daughters, 11-year-old Malia and 8-year-old Sasha, got their shots in October.

Black outreach: Defending himself against criticism from some black leaders who say he isn't showing enough compassion for the plight of regular blacks, Obama said billions of dollars in the stimulus bill were used to save the jobs of teachers, police officers and firefighters. Obama said many of those workers are black. Obama commented in an Oval Office interview with American Urban Radio Networks.

Seattle Times news services

WASHINGTON — President Obama signed into law legislation that provides $636.3 billion for the U.S. military in fiscal 2010, including $128.3 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House announced today.

About $65 billion of the war funding is for operations in Afghanistan. The administration says it will need about $30 billion more to finance the addition of 30,000 more troops there that begins this month. That request is likely to come with the fiscal 2011 budget to be submitted in February.

The defense bill was the last of 12 annual spending bills to be sent to the president. It includes a stopgap provision to ensure that unemployment benefits aren't cut off over the holidays.

As the last major spending bill of the year, the legislation also carried about $13.3 billion in nondefense spending, most of it for temporary extensions of several domestic programs Congress didn't have time to consider separately.

Lawmakers extended through February a package of emergency unemployment and health-care benefits that had been part of this year's economic-stimulus package. Those benefits include health-insurance subsidies for laid-off workers under a federal program called COBRA. The benefit had been slated to expire at the end of this month.

Lawmakers also temporarily reauthorized portions of the anti-terror USA Patriot Act and provided funding for Medicare to forestall for two months a scheduled 21 percent cut in payments to doctors who treat patients in the government health program for the elderly.

Senators arrived at a vote on the bill after defeating a Republican effort to filibuster the legislation Friday.

Most of the military spending had broad support, but Republicans sought the delay to express their displeasure with Congress' inability to consider nondefense items separately and to slow progress on the health-care legislation.

Some Republicans also blasted what they perceived as unnecessary pork-barrel spending in the bill.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, complained that the bill was laden with earmarks.

Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois said several of the nondefense items in the bill, such as the unemployment-benefits extension, were sorely needed in the face of a lagging economy.

The bill includes about $11 billion more than the $625.3 billion Congress approved for fiscal 2009, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The funding for fiscal 2010 brings to more than $1 trillion the money approved since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks for the wars, veterans' care, embassy protection and enhanced domestic security, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

That includes $748 billion for spending related to the war in Iraq and $300 billion for Afghanistan, the research service said in a Sept. 28 report. The $128.3 billion for war spending is $22.1 billion less than the $150.4 billion approved in fiscal 2009 and the lowest since 2006, according to the CRS.

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