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SASC Passes Defense Policy Bill: The Senate Armed Services Committee on May 24 completed its mark-up of the Senate's version of the Fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill. The committee's mark-up provides $631.4 billion for national defense programs, some $200 million less than President Obama's request, according to a SASC release. This includes $498 million more than the Pentagon's $525.3 billion request for its base budget; $301 million less than the Defense Department's $88.5 billion request for overseas contingency operations, including the war in Afghanistan; and $431 million less than the $17.8 billion request for Energy Department national security programs. "With unanimous approval of this bill, the Armed Services Committee has continued its bipartisan tradition of strong support for national security, and for our troops and their families," said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), SASC chairman. He added, "The committee has approved a bill that maintains a strong, flexible national defense, and also exercises careful stewardship of taxpayer dollars, remaining within the topline of the President's budget request." The next step is for the full Senate to take up the bill. The House authorized $635.2 billion in its version of next fiscal year's defense authorization bill that it passed on May 18.