The US Senate approved a massive $631 billion defense bill authorizing new funds for weapons, air and sea craft, and pay raises for military officials.
Of the money approved – in a sweeping vote of 98-0 – $526 will go to current defense programs, $17 billion to Energy Department defense projects, and $88 billion to the ongoing US war in Afghanistan.
The Senate also overwhelmingly voted for an investigation into the possibility of instituting a no-fly zone over civil war-torn Syria. The Obama administration has warned Syria not to use chemical or biological weapons against its citizens. The bill faces a possible veto by the president.
Last year, Obama and congressional Republicans agreed to a half a trillion dollars in defense cuts over the next decade. The bill also added new stringencies to sanctions against Iran, targeting the Islamic republic’s energy and shipping sectors. Though some sanctions are already in place, Iran has continued to work on developing its nuclear program.