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Oct 22 (Reuters) - Legislation that would extend hate-crimes protection to gays and lesbians cleared the U.S. Congress on Thursday as part of a compromise bill that sets the Pentagon’s budget.
The bill now heads to the White House, where President Obama will sign it into law or reject it because it approves weapons systems that the Pentagon does not want.
It passed the Senate by a vote of 68 to 29. The House approved it on Oct. 8.
Following are some aspects of the legislation:
* The bill extends hate-crime protections to cover gays and lesbians, over the objection of Republicans who said it should have been handled separately. Democrats have tried but failed for years to make it a federal crime to attack someone because of their sexual orientation. Such laws are already in place for crimes motivated by racial, ethnic or religious prejudice.
* Authorizes the purchase of 30 F-35 jet fighters, along with $560 million for an alternate engine the Obama administration opposes.
* Cancels the troubled VH-71 presidential helicopter program and the F-22 fighter, as requested by the administration.
* Reduces the Pentagon’s reliance on outside contractors by converting 11,000 contractor positions to civilian Pentagon jobs, and expands the size of its acquisition work force by 9,000 positions.
* Prohibits the retirement of fighter planes until the Air Force explains how it will operate without them.
* Authorizes $6.7 billion to buy mine-resistant vehicles, $1.2 billion above the Pentagon’s request.
* Authorizes $440 million for the KC-X aerial refueling tanker program.
* Recommends that the administration consider applying additional sanctions to Iran if it does not curb its nuclear program.
* Prohibits the release of foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, until 45 days after the administration certifies they will not pose a security threat.
* Prohibits contractors from interrogating detainees, requires interrogations to be videotaped, and allows the Red Cross access to the Bagram military prison in Afghanistan.
* Authorizes $9.3 billion for missile defense.
* Authorizes an increase in the size of the military by 30,000 Army troops, 8,100 Marines, 14,650 Air Force personnel and 2,477 Navy sailors. Also authorizes an additional 30,000 Army troops over the next two fiscal years. It also provides a pay raise of 3.4 percent.
* Requires ships carrying Pentagon equipment in pirate-infested waters to carry nonlethal defense measures.
Details of the bill were postedhere (Reporting by Andy Sullivan in Washington; Editing by David Alexander and Eric Walsh)
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