Obama Will Veto Defense Authorization Bill:
Calling the bill “irresponsible,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday that Obama would veto the National Defense Authorization Act should it reach his desk. The bill would use $90 billion from special war funds to avoid sequestration, which Earnest noted was opposed by several members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.
Defense News Reports:
WASHINGTON — In a dispute with Republicans over how defense would be funded, President Obama plans to veto the 2016 defense policy bill due for a vote in the House on Thursday, a White House spokesman told reporters Wednesday.
All but one conference committee Democrat refused to sign the conference report, which reflects a compromise months in the making between House and Senate armed services committees conferees over differences between their two versions of the bill.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., and House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, with the ranking Democrats of each committee — Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash. — announced the report was finalized at a cordial Capitol Hill press conference late Tuesday afternoon. Reed and Smith collaborated with Republicans on the measure, but said they could not support it.
Republicans have sought to meet Obama’s military budget request through the use of the wartime overseas contingency operations (OCO) account, which is exempt from sequestration budget caps, and which is part of the bill. Smith said this creates a disincentive to reach a deal on the federal budget that removes the caps.
“The lingering problem … is the OCO funding,” said Smith. “The budget caps are still in place. I agree that this is an appropriations issue, but it’s in our bill.”
The bill does not appropriate funding, but sets policy, creating authorization to spend money on a wide range of acquisition programs across the services. The bill also contains measures meant to provide lethal aid to Ukraine, ban torture, keep open the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, reform troop pay and benefits and overhaul acquisition rules.
After White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday Obama would veto the bill, Thornberry and McCain released statements blasting the president.
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