President Barack Obama issued his fifth veto Thursday, sending the annual defense authorization bill back to Congress due to his concerns with spending tactics and his wish to close down the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“As president and commander in chief, my first and most important responsibility is keeping the American people safe,” said Obama at a public veto signing, according to The Military Times. “And that means that we make sure that our military is properly funded… Unfortunately, [this bill] falls woefully short in key areas.”
The bill would have authorized $612 billion towards military programs and enjoyed large bipartisan support passing the Senate 70-27, and the House 270-156. According to Senate Minority Leader [crscore]Harry Reid[/crscore], overriding the veto would be unlikely due to the fact that his caucus would uphold a presidential veto “without any question.”
One of the reasons Obama vetoed the bill was he believed it “resorted to gimmicks.” The “gimmicks” he is referring to are the $38 billion allocated in overseas contingency funds. The president also took issue with language in the bill that would have prohibited detainees at Guantanamo Bay from being transferred to the United States.
“[The bill] not only would have increased pay for military personnel but it also would have allowed commanders to arm certain personnel on domestic military bases in response to the tragic shooting in Chattanooga in July that killed five service members,” said Republican Tennessee Senator [crscore]Lamar Alexander[/crscore] in a press release. “Further, this legislation included national defense spending priorities that met President Obama’s request. This bill had wide bipartisan support, and Obama’s veto could harm our troops and make the nation less secure.”
Obama believes there shouldn’t be an increase in defensive spending without an increase in non-defense spending.
“The president has vowed to veto it. Why? Because he wants to stop and spend more money on his domestic agenda,” said House Speaker [crscore]John Boehner[/crscore]. “It’s time to put our troops first, time to stop playing political games.”
Republicans are also frustrated due to the nine months of negotiations involved, with Arizona Senator [crscore]John McCain[/crscore] not wishing to be in further talks.
“We have done our job,” McCain said.
Among the negotiated reforms in the bill was an overhaul of the current retirement system that would’ve taken place in 2018, and it would have provided matching government contributions for service members contributing to a Thrift Savings Plan.
House Republican leaders have scheduled a November 5 vote to override the veto.