National Security

Senate Sends Veto-Proof Defense Spending Bill To Obama’s Desk

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter

The Senate passed a long-awaited defense spending bill Thursday by a massive 92-7 vote, sending the bill to President Barack Obama’s desk with a veto-proof majority.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA) had a rocky path through Congress. Obama threatened to veto any NDAA bill with increased spending unless similar caps were removed on domestic programs. Despite Obama’s objections, the current NDAA adds $9 billion more to the defense budget than requested by the administration.

“With today’s overwhelming 92-7 vote in the Senate, the NDAA has now passed the Congress with veto-proof majorities in both houses,” said Sen. John McCain and Rep. Mac Thornberry, the heads of the Senate and House Committees on Armed Services, in a joint statement Thursday. “This legislation marks another important step toward reforming our defense enterprise to meet current and future threats.”

The bill addresses several military readiness concerns. Additionally, it includes a 2.1 percent pay raise for all service members, the largest in six years. It also includes an overhaul of the military’s malfunctioning healthcare system and acquisition processes.

Defense spending was significantly reduced after the passage of the Budget Control Act in 2011. The law traded an increase in the nation’s debt ceiling for a $2.4 trillion deficit reduction over the next 10 years. As a result, the defense budget was constrained and the military suffered from a lack of readiness, equipment maintenance and force size reductions.

“We must have … predictable and sustained funding to deliver the readiness that our combatant commanders require to meet the missions that continue to emerge,” said Gen. Daniel Allyn, vice chief of staff of the Army, while testifying to the Senate Committee on Armed Services in March.

While the new defense bill certainly addresses some immediate concerns, the movement for defense reform is far from over.

“Building on this year’s NDAA, the Senate and House Armed Services Committees will continue to champion the cause of defense reform in the new Congress,” said McCain and Thornberry’s statement.

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