UPDATE 1-U.S. Congress defense bill compromise faces challenges

martes 29 de septiembre de 2015 16:28 GYT

(Adds comments, more detail, timing of vote)

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON, Sept 29 (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers unveiled a compromise version of the annual $612 billion defense authorization bill on Tuesday, but the measure includes provisions such as the use of war funds to avoid budget restrictions that could prompt a veto by President Barack Obama.

The proposed National Defense Authorization Act also tightens restrictions on transferring inmates from the detention center at the Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba, even as Obama works to close the controversial facility before he leaves office in January 2017.

The bill keeps an existing ban on transferring any inmates from the base to the United States, and it adds a requirement that the secretary of defense certifies that a transfer to another country is in the U.S. security interest.

Senator John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, faulted the White House for failing to provide Congress with a plan to close the military prison.

"If the administration complains about the provisions on Guantanamo, then it's their fault because they never came forward with a plan," McCain told a news conference.

The bill authorizes the provision of defensive weapons to Ukraine as it faces aggression from Russia, provides for a small raise for U.S. troops as well as authorization for weapons, aircraft and other military equipment.

Lawmakers are due to vote on the measure later this week.

To become law, it would have to pass both the House of Representatives and Senate and be signed by Obama. But Obama and many of his fellow Democrats object to the use of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds, which are meant to cover war costs, to allow the Pentagon to sidestep mandatory sequestration budget cuts still imposed on other programs.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Sandra Maler and Eric Beech)