Senate passes defense authorization bill

The Senate voted 99-0 Tuesday to approve the fiscal 2002 defense authorization bill.

The bill provides for $345 billion in defense spending next year, increases pay and benefits for military personnel and approves another round of military base closings.

The Senate had voted unanimously Tuesday morning to move ahead with the bill, as several senators put aside objections to language in the bill allowing for further base closures.

The bill allows civil service, military and Foreign Service employees to use frequent flier miles obtained on government travel for personal use. The House approved a separate bill authorizing federal employees to keep their frequent flier miles. The bill also allows the Defense Department to offer buyouts and early outs to employees in 2003, let federal agencies pay for employees to acquire such credentials as professional accreditation designations, state-imposed licenses, professional licenses, and other professional certifications and create a pilot program to pay for retraining employees who are laid off by the Defense Department.

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