President Obama is keeping a promise by vetoing the $612 billion defense policy bill, inviting reporters and photographers to watch him wield his veto pen in the Oval Office.
“Obama says he opposes the bill because it uses creative budget maneuvers to boost defense spending by $38 billion without increasing domestic spending. Obama wants higher spending for both,” reports ABC News, which also mentions the President was upset that the bill would make it harder for him to close the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
“I’m going to be sending it back to Congress and my message to them is very simple: ‘Let’s do this right,'” said Obama, as quoted by Reuters. “We’re in the midst of budget discussions. Let’s have a budget that properly funds our national security as well as economic security.”
The president’s veto threat has been criticized by Republicans as an effort to hold military spending hostage to his domestic spending priorities, “economic security” having nothing to do with the business of national defense. Even friendly media outlets are characterizing Obama’s veto as a “rebuke” to Republicans – which, they will assert, is synonymous with politicizing national defense in a moment of national peril.
Such was the critique leveled by presidential candidate Jeb Bush, for example, on the eve of the promised presidential veto:
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) October 21, 2015
“The president will not only veto the bill, he’s going to brag about it. Not only going to veto the bill, he’s going to brag about it in a photo op today down at the White House,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Thursday.
McConnell predicted he would have enough votes to override a presidential veto, while Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was equally confident he would have enough votes to sustain it. The Hill notes that Reid would have to flip some Democrats who voted for the bill to sustain Obama’s veto, as it passed the senate with 20 Democrat votes earlier this month, on a 70-27 vote.
Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was also aware of the presidential veto threat when he signed the defense bill on Tuesday. “I recognize the president wants to make a point about spending, but there are certainly ways to do that that don’t involve putting our troops in the middle,” he said, hoping in vain that the President would “do the right thing and sign this bill for our troops and our families.”
“President Obama’s politically-motivated veto of bipartisan legislation to fund our troops is troubling on its own, but the fact he used the occasion for a photo-op will go down as one of the lowest moments of his failed presidency,” said Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus after the veto ceremony. “Funding our national security priorities should be above partisan politics and our men and women in uniform should never be used as a bargaining chip. With the Russians and ISIS terrorists on the march, President Obama’s decision to hold funding for the military hostage is not only petty, it is undeniably reckless.”
“The fact President Obama would walk away from his responsibilities as commander-in-chief at such a dangerous time in an attempt to reverse unrelated budget caps he signed into law shows how out of place his priorities are,” Priebus continued. “Hillary Clinton’s silence amid this irresponsible brinksmanship is telling and she should immediately call on President Obama to fund our military with no strings attached.”