White House threatens to veto Defense bill

The White House on Thursday threatened to veto the 2012 Defense appropriations bill. 

"The administration strongly opposes a number of provisions in this bill. If a bill is presented to the President that undermines his ability as commander-in-chief or includes ideological or political policy riders, the president’s senior advisors would recommend a veto," the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said in a statement.


"While overall funding limits and subsequent allocations remain unclear pending the outcome of ongoing bipartisan, bicameral discussions between the administration and congressional leadership on the nation's long-term fiscal picture, the administration has concerns regarding the level of resources the bill would provide for programs necessary to meet national security," the statement continues.

OMB lists a number of provisions in the bill that the administration finds objectionable, including "unnecessary" additional money for the C-17 transport aircraft and a smaller amount of funding for the Intelligence Community Management Account. 

OMB also weighed in at length on a provision that would limit the amount of funds available for transferring or "otherwise restrict detainee" transfers. OMB charged that it was "an extraordinary challenge to critical Executive branch authority" to decide the location and time to prosecute detainees depending on the "facts and the circumstances" of each detainee's case as well as national security concerns.

The statement comes more than a week after the House Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a 2012 appropriations bill with a total of $544 billion in defense funding. That would be $9 billion less than the Obama administration requested, but $11 billion more than 2011.

The bill also gives the Pentagon $119 billion for fighting wars overseas, which is about $840 million more than the Obama administration had asked for.

The White House also said it opposes an Appropriations plan to slash funding for the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program.

The MEADS is a joint missile defense program between Washington and two European allies. Work on the system is done and financed in by Lockheed in United States, MBDA in Italy, and by EADS in Germany.

The panel’s bill would cut the administration’s $407 million request by $150 million.

The Pentagon announced in February that, due primarily to delays and cost breaches, it will not buy and field the system. The department decided it would continue the development phase and provide funding up to a jointly agreed upon ceiling of $4 billion (in 2004 dollars), according to a Defense Department fact sheet.

While the panel wrote in a report accompanying its bill that the funding cuts is “based on the Army implementation of a well organized plan with close cooperation between the [three] members and a spending plan that avoids worst case funding situations.”

“The level of resources the bill would provide for the MEADS program could trigger unilateral withdrawal by the U.S. from the MEADS Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Germany and Italy, which could further lead to a DOD obligation to pay all contract costs — a scenario that would likely exceed the cost of satisfying DOD’s commitment under the MOU,” the White House said.

Updated at 3:11 p.m.