Yesterday was slightly heavy on the breaking news front, so this (not unexpected) development went largely overlooked. President Obama held a photo-op to highlight his decision to veto the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act, which appropriates $612 billion in defense spending -- a figure that matches Obama's military budget request. Among other things, the legislation pays the troops and gives them a raise. It sailed through the Senate with 70 votes, attracting dozens of Democratic votes at both ends of Capitol Hill. But in an escalation of partisan politics, Obama has refused to sign the measure into law in an effort to coerce Republicans into caving into his domestic spending demands:
President Obama made good on his threat to veto a $612 billion defense policy bill Thursday, bringing the fight over domestic spending into the realm of national security. Speaking to reporters for four minutes in a rare public veto message, Obama said the bill fell "woefully short" because it kept across-the-board budget cuts in place, blocked needed military reforms and prohibited him from closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. With a pen stroke of his left hand, he sent the bill back to Congress, saying, "My message to them is simple. Let's do this right." The veto of the National Defense Authorization Act was an extraordinary use of one of the president's most powerful executive tools. While the White House had problems with some of the bill's provisions, Obama's main objection is that the bill anticipates off-budget spending to increase the defense budget without increasing domestic spending first. The president wants Congress to lift the automatic budget caps included in a 2011 budget agreement. That, congressional Republicans said, is an unprecedented and irresponsible use of the veto power.
The White House says it objects to the manner in which the additional dollars were appropriated, and is frustrated with Congress' continued bipartisan refusal to go along with Obama's unpopular plan to empty the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility. But at the heart of this move is an attempt to strong arm the Republican-held Congress into trading an increased defense budget for more domestic spending. Adopting the White House's colorful parlance, Obama is holding funding for our troops hostage to unrelated political objectives. The president adamantly opposes similar tactics as it relates to the GOP's desire to defund Obamacare, Planned Parenthood or his illegal executive amnesty program -- but they're entirely reasonable and fair when deployed on behalf of his agenda. Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner unloads:
“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. Congress should not allow this veto to stand.”
Since Boehner raised Iran in his curt statement, it's probably worth mentioning that Congressional Democrats threw a party to celebrate the implementation of Obama's widely-opposed nuclear deal this week. They toasted to an agreement that shovels more than $100 billion into the terrorist-backing regime's coffers, legitimizes Iran's rogue nuclear program, and guarantees Iran's place as a threshold nuclear power as soon as the accord's restrictions begin to automatically expire after one decade. Pelosi and friends were evidently unperturbed by, or unaware of, the facts that (a) Iran ostentatiously resisted complying with international investigators' probe into the past military dimensions of its illegal nuclear program, and (b) the regime just test fired an advanced ballistic missile, in violation of international law and the just-inked deal. In response, the Obama administration has valiantly pledged to 'raise the issue' at the United Nations. Good work, everyone. Clink. And with that as a backdrop, Obama has now rejected a consensus defense spending bill for his own ideological purposes -- and as with the Iran issue, Hill Democrats are planning to dutifully sustain his veto, promising to reverse their own votes if necessary. I'll leave you with this from our Commander-in-Chief, with no further commentary necessary:
NB: WH says POTUS did not sign off on #Iraq Spec Ops raid that left US solider dead, says it was Def. Sec. Carter's call— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) October 22, 2015