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Senate backs massive defense bill, targets China, sets Iran vote

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Capitol dome and U.S. Senate (R) in Washington, August 2, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a $750-billion defense policy bill with provisions that target China on issues from technology transfers to the sale of synthetic opioids, pushing to counter growing Chinese influence around the world.

The 973-page National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, passed by an 86-8 vote.

However, in an unusual procedural move, the Senate will have a separate vote on Friday on an amendment that would ban Republican President Donald Trump from attacking Iran without first obtaining congressional approval.

Despite growing tensions with Iran, the amendment is not expected to get the 60 votes needed to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

Among other provisions, the Senate NDAA requires detailed reporting from the Department of Defense to prevent transfers of sensitive technology to China or Russia, as well as reports on access to the Arctic. It also requires tighter screening of scholars seeking visas to the United States.

The Senate’s passage of the NDAA comes as Trump prepares for a high-stakes meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Osaka, Japan, on Saturday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit. Many hope the meeting will help end a months-long trade war between the world’s top two economies.

In Beijing on Friday, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang expressed anger at the bill, saying the government had already made a protest to the United States about it.

“Once the bill becomes law, it will harm Sino-U.S. relations, and interfere with, and damage, cooperation in some important areas,” Geng said.


28th June 2019

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