As the Associated Press notes, the defense policy bill “is one of the few bipartisan measures in Congress that has readily become law for more than a half-century,” but President Obama is threatening to veto this one, with Senate Democrats standing behind him.
Democrats, who apparently saw nothing wrong with doubling the national debt to funnel “stimulus” money to their cronies, are suddenly worried about “funny money,” as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid put it. “He said the bill does nothing to support security needed at home because the spending caps still apply to other agencies that protect the U.S., such as the FBI and border security,” the AP reports.
The White House is said to be displeased with increased funding for the military instead of domestic security agencies in the $612 billion bill, whose features include a 13% pay raise for service members, lethal assistance to Ukrainian forces against the Russian incursion, and money the President requested for Iraqi forces fighting the Islamic State.
President Obama is also concerned that the bill will make it more difficult to shut down the U.S. military facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Buried in the middle of a Wall Street Journal story on the matter is what could be the more significant reason for the President’s veto threat: “Obama also is upset about provisions in the bill that would make it harder for him to transfer suspected terror detainees out of the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as part of his plan to close it before he leaves office.” His failure to deliver on that promise has long been a sore point with his far-Left constituency, especially after his outreach to the Castro regime.
The Wall Street Journal notes that the bill also includes an expansion of the military retirement system, keeps the time-tested A-10 Warthog ground attack jet alive, funds a controversial ballistic missile submarine program, identifies and elimiates $11 billion in “wasteful and excessive spending by the Pentagon,” makes the Defense Department’s procurement system more efficient, and requires the development of more effective offensive and defensive cyber-war units.
“I wish I could say it surprised me that President Obama might – for the sake of unrelated partisan games – actually contemplate vetoing a bipartisan defense bill that contains the level of funding authorization he asked for. I’m calling on him not to, especially in times like these,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from the Senate floor. Given how much heat the GOP leadership has taken for effectively allowing Harry Reid to run the Senate even after the historic Republican midterm victory, this might be ground they feel compelled to make a stand upon.
The Senate Democrat caucus is said to be almost evenly split between opposing and supporting the defense bill’s move to deliver enhanced military funding through “a supplemental war fund, known as Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO, which isn’t subject to the budget caps,” although some of them seem willing to abandon their support for the bill and line up behind Obama due to the veto threat.
With the world in flames due to Obama’s foreign policy, and America on the verge of being summarily ejected from the Middle East, Democrats appear willing to send messages of weakness and division by playing games with military funding, at the very moment the nation most desperately needs to project strength and deterrent force, to audiences ranging from Islamist extremists to Chinese military hackers to Vladimir Putin.
“The president of the United States is placing budgetary issues ahead of the welfare and benefit of the men and women serving the military and their ability to defend the nation,” said Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain. He pronounced it “shameful.”
The Senate voted 73-26 to end debate on the bill and thwart a filibuster on Tuesday, with 21 Democrats breaking ranks to join the Republican majority. The Hill reports the lone Republican “nay” came from Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, while Senator Marco Rubio of Florida missed the vote. Both of these Senators are currently running for President.
The bill is expected to pass the Senate by Thursday, at which point President Obama will have to make good on his veto threat, and the Democrats who voted to end debate will have to decide if they are prepared to support a veto override. Minority Leader Reid expressed confidence that he would have enough support to sustain Obama’s veto.
Let’s see if the media portrays them as “obstructionists,” as they so often describe Republicans who refuse to go along with spending plans. For bonus points, the media can try explaining to the American people that a big part of the reason for this obstruction is Obama’s eagerness to close Guantanamo Bay.