Republican lawmakers are slamming President Obama’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act.
“By placing domestic politics ahead of our troops, President Obama has put America’s national security at risk. This indefensible veto blocks pay and vital tools for our troops while Iranian terrorists prepare to gain billions under the president’s nuclear deal,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said following Obama’s veto.
“Congress should not allow this veto to stand,” he added. A vote to override the veto has already been scheduled in the House for November 5.
The White House had threatened to veto the $612 billion NDAA before Obama ultimately dismissed it. The AP highlighted Obama’s objection to the legislation due to its budget “gimmicks.”
To side-step the budget caps, known in Washington as sequestration, lawmakers added an extra $38.3 billion to a separate account for wartime operations that is immune to the spending limits. The White House has dismissed that approach as a “gimmick” that fails to deal with the broader problem or provide long-term budget certainty for the Pentagon.
Obama also rejects the bill as written due to provisions making it harder for him to transfer suspected terror detainees out of the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a key campaign promise that Obama is hard-pressed to fulfill before his term ends. The White House has also expressed concerns over provisions preventing military base closures and funding equipment beyond what the military says it needs.
The bill passed on a bipartisan basis. However, Democrats have signaled that it is unlikely that Republicans will be able to muster the necessary votes to override the veto.
Meanwhile, Thursday afternoon, Republicans decried the move as indicative of Obama’s lack of regard for the nation’s defenders.
“President Obama’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act is not only unprecedented, but it is reckless, cynical, and downright dangerous,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairmen of the Senate and House Armed Services Committee, respectively, said in a statement.
“Never before has an American president used the bill that provides pay and support to our troops and their families as political leverage for his domestic agenda,” they continued. “The American people, and most importantly, the men and women in uniform deployed to fight in dangerous war zones around the world, expect more from their Commander-in-Chief.”
The Republican National Committee also weighed in on the veto, charging that it was “politically-motivated” and that using the veto for a photo op represented “one of the lowest moments of his failed presidency.”
“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,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.