(Reuters) - The U.S. Congress sought to avoid a showdown with the White House over detainee policy in the war against al Qaeda on Monday, with a panel approving new rules for handling terrorism suspects after adding changes wanted by the administration.
Leaders from the House and Senate Armed Services Committees said they were not certain the changes they included in the National Defense Authorization Act would be enough to avert a threatened veto by President Barack Obama, but they said they hoped they had addressed his concerns.
"I just can't imagine that the president would veto this bill," Senator Carl Levin, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters after a conference committee approved the measure.
The detainee provisions included in the bill raised concerns because they would broaden the armed forces powers over suspected militants, requiring foreigners allied with al Qaeda to be held in military custody even if they were captured in the United States.
New language added by House and Senate lawmakers "make it 100 percent clear that there is no interference with the FBI or other civilian law enforcement," Levin said. "I very strongly believe this should satisfy the administration and I hope it will."
Senator John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate panel, said the issue was of "transcendent importance to a lot of Americans" and he hoped the administration would "not be swayed by political considerations in an election year."(Read more)
Other aspects of the Bill
Defense Budget Will Not Repeal Ban on Sodomy - Chaplains can perform marriages for lesbians and gays in the military- where those are legal- but lesbians and gays. Defends bestiality.
Government Activating FEMA Camps