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House Passes Modified Defense Policy Bill: The House on Friday passed HR 6523, its final version of the Fiscal 2011 defense authorization bill, with a vote of 341 to 48. The bill provides $725 billion for the Pentagon—$17 billion above the Obama Administration's request—including $115 billion for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. HR 6523 is a modified version of HR 5136, the defense bill that the House passed in May. House members drafted HR 6523 in the hope that it would more easily make its way through the Senate, which has not passed its own version of the bill. "We all know that this year's journey towards passage has been rancorous and difficult like few others," said Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), House Armed Services Committee chairman. In the end, House members compromised for the sake of "supporting the men and women in the armed forces," he said. Ranking member Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), praised Skelton, a long-time friend and committee partner who isn't returning with the next Congress, for his service, but said the effort to rush the bill through before the lame-duck Congress adjourns was a slap in the face to "Ike's legacy." (HR 6523 summary) (Skelton statement) (McKeon statement) (Also read Money Talk from the Daily Report archives)