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Franken votes against defense policy bill


WASHINGTON — Sen. Al Franken voted against a defense policy and funding bill Thursday because of a controversial detention provision that many liberals and some conservatives have opposed on civil liberty grounds.

In a statement, Franken said the provision allowing the United States government to indefinitely detain Americans suspected of terrorism was “unacceptable.” In November he argued that an earlier version of the provision “denigrates the very foundations of this country. It denigrates the Bill of Rights. It denigrates what our Founders intended when they created a civilian-non-military-justice system for trying and punishing people for crimes committed on U.S. soil.”

Franken voted for the original Senate defense bill and said Thursday that he’d hoped the detention provisions would be changed significantly. A committee made up of House and Senate members eventually tweaked the provision just enough to gain support from President Obama. Seven Democrats and six conservative Republicans and voted against the final version of the bill.

The Senate passed the defense bill 86-13 on Thursday afternoon. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar voted in favor of the bill. The House passed the bill 283-136 on Wednesday. Democrats Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum voted against the bill, chiefly because of the detention provisions as well.

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