Some Republicans who opposed defense bill may back veto override

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 26, 2015 7:40 PM

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some congressional Republicans who voted against a sweeping defense policy bill would consider voting to override President Barack Obama's veto of the measure, three members of the Freedom Caucus, one of the party's most conservative groups, told Reuters on Monday.

Representatives Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan and Mick Mulvaney, founders of the influential group, told Reuters in an interview that Republicans are in an all-out push to muster the two-thirds majorities in both the House of Representatives and Senate to override the veto.

Meadows, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, voted for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). He said he was encouraging caucus members who did not to back an override, citing the wide variety of security threats now facing the United States.

Obama, a Democrat, vetoed the sweeping $612 billion NDAA last week, returning it to the Republican-controlled Congress because of the way it uses money meant for war spending to avoid automatic budget cuts to military programs.

Democrats insist Republicans will not get the 290 votes needed for an override in the House. Outside analysts say it will be difficult.

Under congressional rules, the House will hold its override vote first, on Nov. 5. The Senate will not have a vote if the House sustains the veto.

The NDAA passed the House by 270-156 on Oct. 1. Ten Republicans, including seven Freedom Caucus members, joined 146 Democrats in voting no.

Mulvaney was among them. He said he voted no because of the use of the special war money.

"I don't like the use of the Overseas Contingency Operations budget to get around the budget caps," he said. "... We're lying to people about how we spend their money."

Mulvaney said he was undecided, but would consider backing an override if Paul Ryan, who is expected to be elected as House speaker this week, could promise that the use of the OCO funds to avoid the budget caps would not continue after the fiscal 2016 NDAA.

Mulvaney said he would back an override "If Paul (Ryan) can satisfy me... that this is not going to be a blank check for the military, this is not going to be a tool that we use all the time, this is not going to be a go-around."

The hard-right Freedom Caucus recently played a major role in ousting House Speaker John Boehner.

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell, Kevin Drawbaugh, David Lawder and Andy Sullivan; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)