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Thursday, January 24, 2008

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 Passes Again

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 passed once and was vetoed by the President and just passed the Senate again, this time it had certain modifications to address the foreign sovereign immunities provisions of title 28, United States Code, with respect to the attachment of property in certain judgements against Iraq, which the President had insisted on in order to sign the bill into law.

It passed 91 to 3 with 6 not voting.

(Roll call on this latest vote found here)

The House has already passed that measure in a vote of 369-46, roll call found here, earlier this week.

The previous bill was vetoed because of provisions of the bill risked "imposing financially devastating hardship on Iraq" that could interfere with the political and economic progress needed to bring U.S. troops home."

The White House said it was concerned about Section 1083, a provision that would allow a freezing of Iraqi assets for lawsuits brought by Americans against Iraq over activities under Saddam Hussein's leadership, which could tie up Iraqi assets needed for the country's reconstruction.

"The potential liability created by Section 1083 cannot be overstated -- it could reach multiple billions of dollars and subject the Development Fund for Iraq and Iraq's central bank reserves, which are both essential to building on security gains, to attachment and liens," the Friday release stated.

In addition, the provision would have serious implications for U.S. troops in the field, which count on Iraqi funds to expand and equip the Iraqi Security Forces and provide an antidote to terrorists and insurgents.

On December 28, 2007, the White House issued a release explaining the veto and this bill passed by the Senate today, seems to have addressed those issues and is expected to be signed into law by President Bush.

The full memeorandun of disapproval can be found here.

Another important aspect of this bill that the President is expected to sign immediately, is the first expansion to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in nearly 15 years. which includes a provision to expand leave protections under the FMLA for the family of U.S. soldiers.

Other provisions of the present bill allow private lawsuits against Libya for actions taken between 1979 and 2000 when the US designated the state as a terror sponsor.