WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday he believes there are enough votes in the U.S. Senate to override a veto of a $612 billion defense bill, as the two U.S. political parties intensified their war of words over the legislation.
The White House has said President Barack Obama plans to veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes spending for the Pentagon. Obama and his fellow Democrats object to the measure because it uses some $90 billion meant for war spending to avoid automatic budget cuts to military programs.
Obama and many Democrats are pushing for a budget deal that would also address domestic spending cuts.
The NDAA was passed by the Senate on Oct. 7 and the House on Oct. 1.
Senate Republican leaders bashed Obama for his promised veto, saying it foolishly risked national security as the country balanced rising threats from Islamic State militants and others.
They urged Democrats to use another piece of legislation to wage what they termed a battle over domestic spending.
"I hope the president comes to his senses," Senator John Thune, a member of the chamber's Republican leadership, told reporters.
If Obama vetoes the measure, Republicans are not expected to muster the two-thirds majority that would be needed in both the Senate and House of Representatives for an override.
Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, said the veto would be sustained in the House, which would hold its vote before the Senate. The NDAA passed the House by 270-156, short of the 290 needed to override a veto if all 435 House members voted.
Senator Richard Durbin, who as minority whip is the Democrats' chief vote counter in the Senate, declined to say whether the Senate would sustain an Obama NDAA veto.
"It goes to the House first, and we think that they'll sustain the president's veto when that arrives. It wouldn't come here," he said.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)