President Obama on Thursday threatened to veto the Senate’s nearly $576 billion defense spending bill, hours before the chamber is set to take up the measure.
In a statement, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Thursday objected to a number of items contained in the proposed measure, emphasizing the roughly $38 billion boost to the Defense Department’s war fund that would allow the Pentagon to skirt existing budget caps.
“This approach fails to provide the stable, multi-year budget on which defense planning is based; undermines a mechanism meant to fund incremental costs of overseas conflicts; locks in unacceptable funding cuts for national security activities at non-defense agencies such as the Departments of State, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs; and weakens national security by undermining the Nation's economic security,” the OMB wrote.
Senate Democratic leaders have also objected to the increase in funding to the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund, labeling it a “gimmick.”
Democrats have threatened to block all spending bills unless the GOP starts budget negotiations to strike a deal that would lift the spending caps for the entire federal government, not just the Pentagon.
Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFeehery: The next Republican wave is coming Rift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power MORE (R-Ohio) released a video on Thursday admonishing Senate Democrats for threatening to hold up a legislation that includes a pay raise for the troops.
The administration’s veto latest threat makes a complete set for Pentagon-related bills, with similar warnings being issued for the House drafts of the defense policy and spending bills and the Senate authorization measure.
The Senate on Thursday is expected to vote on and pass its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2016, despite the veto threat.
It would then be merged with the House version, which was passed last month.
Once that vote has concluded, the chamber is expected to vote to begin debate on the spending measure. The House approved its version this week.
In addition to the OCO increase, the White House opposes the Senate spending legislation because it contains language that would make it hard to shutter the U.S. prison facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The Senate measure also junks many of the administration’s cost-cutting proposals, such as a new round of base closures and the retirement of the Air Force’s A-10 “Warthog” fleet.
The OMB has voiced similar concerns about the other Pentagon-related bills.