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House Passes Defense Authorization Bill

On December 2, the House approved, 375-34, the conference report for S. 2943, the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate approved its version of the bill on June 14 (see The Source, 6/17/16), while the House approved its version, H.R. 4909, on May 18 (see The Source, 5/20/16). The Senate is expected to consider the bill during the week of December 5.

According to the conference report, the legislation would authorize $611.2 billion in discretionary funds for FY2017. This amount includes $523.7 billion in base funding and $19.4 billion for national security programs. The measure also would provide $67.8 billion for overseas contingency operations and contains $134.6 billion for military personnel and $7.7 billion for military construction. Within the amount provided for military construction, the bill would allocate $1.28 billion for military housing.

The conference report would remove the provision in the Senate-passed bill that would require women aged 18-26 to register for Selective Service. The House bill did not contain the provision.

The bill would provide up to 12 weeks of parental leave for primary caregivers following the birth of a child, and up to six weeks following the adoption of a child. Secondary caregivers would be eligible for up to 21 days of parental leave.

The conference report would make several modifications to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) to address military sexual assault. The bill would remove the requirement that sexual assault include bodily harm in order to prove the charge in a court-martial. Additionally, the bill would clarify that incapacitation or submission to the threat of use of force would not qualify as consent; stalking would be made a court-martial offense.

Officers, recruiters, drill instructors, and faculty members would be prohibited from engaging in sexual relations with students, recruits, and those awaiting basic training. These violations would be court-martial offenses; consent would not be a defense.

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