White House threatens veto of Defense bill

The White House threatened Tuesday to veto the House’s version of the Defense authorization bill that is on the floor this week.

The Obama administration said it would veto the bill over Guantánamo, missile defense and an additional $5 billion the Armed Services Committee provided for funding the war in Afghanistan.

The administration also objected to the funding topline for the $638 billion bill, which followed the House-passed budget that keeps Defense under the sequester spending cap by making deep cuts to other discretionary programs.

“H.R. 1960 assumes adoption of the House Budget Resolution framework, which would hurt our economy and require draconian cuts to middle-class priorities,” the administration said in a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP). “As the administration indicated previously, the president's senior advisors would recommend vetoing any appropriations legislation that implements the House Republican Budget framework."

The administration issued a laundry list of complaints about the bill that passed the House Armed Services Committee 59-2 last week.

Many of the administration’s objections will not make it through the Senate bill, where Democrats have control, but several of the disputed provisions were similar to provisions in last year’s Defense authorization bill that President Obama signed into law. That bill also received a veto threat.

In this year’s authorization bill, the White House once again objected to prohibitions on the transfer of detainees from Guantánamo Bay to U.S. soil or for the U.S. to begin construction on any U.S. facility for the detainees.

President Obama has made a new push to close the detention facility, but Congress has already taken votes to continue the restrictions on moving detainees.

The administration said that it did not want the additional $5 billion that was included for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) to fund the war in Afghanistan.

“The President's Budget for FY 2014 fully funds OCO requirements,” the administration said.

There were also objections raised over missile defense provisions, including a proposed third missile defense site on the East Coast and restrictions to implementing the New START treaty with Russia.

The administration once again pleaded with Congress not to reject several Pentagon cost-cutting measures, including new healthcare fees, base closures and a smaller pay increase for troops.