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House Passes Defense Policy Bill: The House on Thursday approved H.R. 1540, its version of the Fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill, by a vote of 322 to 96. The legislation provides some $690 billion in total for national security activities next fiscal year, about $1 billion more than President Obama's request. "This year’s defense authorization bill meets the national security needs of a nation at war while preparing our warfighters for the threats of tomorrow. With the tough fiscal times facing our country, the bill treats every taxpayer dollar as precious," stated Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), House Armed Services Committee chairman, in a release. "[The bill] also provides our troops and their families with the benefits and support that they deserve, including a 1.6 percent pay increase," noted Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), HASC ranking member, in his release. Among its provision, the legislation directs the Defense Secretary to make available the government-owned equipment from the F136 engine program so that General Electric and Roll Royce may continue to develop this second engine for the F-35 strike fighter on their own dime. (H.R. 1540 full text; bill report, and list of amendments; caution, large-sized files.)