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Senate panel approves $631 billion defense bill
Senate panel wraps up $631 billion defense bill for next year, meets Obama budget request
By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) ' A Senate panel has approved a $631 billion defense budget for next year, the same amount that President Barack Obama proposed for the military.

Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and John McCain of Arizona announced Thursday that the Armed Services Committee had completed its closed-door work on the bill. The final amount puts the bill at odds with a House-passed measure that is $4 billion more.

Levin told reporters the committee made at least 150 changes to the president's request. They rejected the Pentagon's proposed cuts in the Air National Guard and refused to raise health care enrollment fees for working-age military retirees.

The committee bill calls for a 5 percent cut over five years in civilian personal and federal contractors. The full Senate could consider the bill in June.

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