Congress Sending Critical Bipartisan Defense Bill To President Who Has Threatened Veto
|Image via "The Hill" article referenced below|
The House reconvened at Noon today. They will civer some House communications and then recess until 4 PM. No scheduled votes on bills will occur before 6:30 PM.
Speaker Boehner is scheduled at 5 PM ET to sign the National Defense Authorization Act. This will begin the 10 days that President Obama will have to follow through on his threatened veto. The signing will be attended by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate and House Armed Services Committee Chairmen John McCain (R-AZ) and Mac Thornberry (R-TX), and other lawmakers to underline the importance of the legislation.
The Hill reports, “President Obama has threatened to veto the bill, which authorizes Pentagon funding and programs for 2016, because of a larger spending fight with Republicans. GOP leaders want to make the veto as public and painful for the president as possible.
“‘The bipartisan legislation will provide the resources for a strong national defense in a fiscally responsible way,’ the GOP said in a news release announcing the signing."
The Hill also notes, "Republican defense hawks argue the president's veto is misplaced, since the legislation does not actually appropriate funding. Furthermore, they argue that the bill authorizes an amount the White House is asking for, at $612 billion.
"However, Republicans would also leave spending caps in place on defense and nondefense spending, but put extra money into a war fund that's not subject to the caps. That would reach the desired $612 billion level, but the administration objects to the method.
"Defense officials say if a new defense policy bill is not passed, it will rely on the 2015 bill, as long as there is funding.
"However, if there is no funding for 2016 by Dec. 11, they say the Pentagon will have to furlough at least 400,000 of its approximately 700,000 civilian workers, and hundreds of thousands of civilian contractors.
"Troops would still have to report for duty, but would not get paid until funding is approved."
The Senate reconvened at 10 AM today and began consideration of the nomination of Ann Donnelly to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York. At 11:45, the Senate voted 95-2 to confirm the Donnelly nomination.
The Senate then resumed consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 2146, a bill that would penalize sanctuary cities which refuse to abide by immigration laws (Kate's Law)
At 2:15, senators will vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to (i.e. whether to take up and debate) S. 2146.
A The Wall Street Journal editorial today takes Obama to task over his threatened veto of this crucial bill. “President Obama is determined to end his second term in another blaze of spending glory, and toward that end he’s taking the U.S. military hostage. That’s the way to understand his threat to veto the National Defense Authorization Act.
“The House and Senate recently passed this annual bill with significant bipartisan majorities and they’ll send it to Mr. Obama as early as Tuesday. The NDAA is a policy bill that contains major military reforms and authorizes $612 billion in national defense spending, though that money would have to be appropriated separately. . . .
“The President’s real goal is to force Republicans to break the caps on non-military domestic spending. His veto threat explains he will not ‘fix defense without fixing non-defense spending.’ So he admits that he’s willing to squeeze a military that is fighting the likes of Islamic State unless he gets more for Head Start, ‘job training and employment services’ and welfare programs.”
The Journal editors note, “This intransigence risks derailing vital Pentagon reforms. The NDAA includes Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain’s sweeping overhaul of Defense’s bloated and sluggish acquisition process. . . . The bill contains other important provisions, including funds to provide military aide to Ukraine in its defense against Russian separatists, new money for ballistic missile defense, and a military pay raise. . . .
“The NDAA has passed for 53 years in a row, making it a rare display of bipartisanship. It passed the Senate this year with 70 votes, including 21 Democrats, and the House with 270 votes, including 37 Democrats. But under pressure from the White House, many of those Democrats may switch to sustain a veto.”
The WSJ editors conclude, “It’s hard to find a worse example of Washington dysfunction than a Commander in Chief, backed by fellow Democrats, who is willing to punish the military so he can break the little fiscal discipline that Congress has.”
Indeed, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this month, “[T]he White House has issued threats that the President might veto this bipartisan bill for unrelated partisan reasons. That would be more than outrageous. It would be yet another grave foreign policy miscalculation from this Administration, something our country can no longer afford.”
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