With the debate surrounding the fiscal cliff earning much of the attention from the military community, some people may have overlooked the fact that the Senate recently unanimously passed a sprawling $631 billion defense spending bill for 2013. The 98-0 vote highlights the increasingly loud call to pull out of Afghanistan and includes potential cuts to the Pentagon budget, according to The Associated Press.
The bill included about $525.3 billion in base defense spending, which is just slightly less than what the Obama administration requested earlier this year. However, it was the bill's language about the United States' involvement in the world that sent the loudest message. The fact that the Pentagon budget has not increased like it has over the last decade of war signals the fact that Congress may encourage the White House to speed up the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
There are still some areas of contention in the bill, according to the AP. For instance, the bill increases spending on things like weapons, aircrafts and ships and also calls for a 1.7 percent pay raise to troops. Such provisions could derail plans to balance the budget.
Despite the unanimous passage, a House-Senate conference committee still needs to draft a final version to give to President Obama.