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White House issues veto threat for House defense appropriations bill

White House issues veto threat for House defense appropriations bill
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The White House on Tuesday issued a veto threat on a 2016 defense spending bill the House is due to begin debating this week.  

"If the President were presented with H.R. 2685, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill," a statement from its budget office said. 

The bill adheres to spending caps put in place by the 2011 Budget Control Act that the president has urged Congress to lift but boosts defense spending by putting more money into a war funding account that is not subject to the caps. 

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It would appropriate base defense spending at the capped level but put an additional $38 billion in a war funding account to meet the president's requested amount for defense spending. 

Democrats argue the caps should be lifted for defense and nondefense spending and that $38 billion put into the war fund should instead be put into the Pentagon's base budget. 

The president has asked Congress to lift the caps and has threatened to veto any bill that adheres to the caps. The White House has already issued veto threats on House and Senate defense policy bills that authorize Pentagon programs and funding. 

Those bills also adhere to the caps and use the war fund to skirt the caps on defense. The House bill passed last month, and the Senate bill will likely be voted on this week. 

The White House statement, issued by the Office of Management and Budget, said the bill uses the war fund in ways that leaders in both parties "have made clear are inappropriate." 

The statement said the war fund, which provides war-related funding one year at a time, would not provide a "stable, multi-year budget" for defense planning, which is typically five years at a time.  

The statement also said using it to lift spending caps on defense ignores "the long-term connection" between national security and economic security, and fails to consider "vital national security functions" carried out at nondefense agencies. 

The spending bill additionally rejects the administration's proposal to close excess military bases, reduce military benefits and compensation, and prevent the retirement of "unnecessary" force structure and weapons systems. 

The statement from the White House also criticizes the bill's "unwarranted restrictions regarding detainees at Guantánamo Bay." 

"The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to reverse sequestration for defense and non-defense priorities and offset the cost with commonsense spending and tax expenditure cuts, as Members of Congress from both parties have urged," it said.