White House issues veto threat over House defense policy bill

White House issues veto threat over House defense policy bill
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The Obama administration Monday evening issued a veto threat on the House's defense policy bill, a day before lawmakers are set to take it up on the House floor.  

"If the President were presented with H.R. 4909, his senior advisors would recommend he veto the bill," said a statement of administration policy sent out by the Office of Management and Budget.  

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"The Administration appreciates the House Armed Services Committee's continued support of our national defense and supports a number of provisions in H.R. 4909, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017," the statement said. 

"However, the Administration strongly objects to many provisions in this bill that impede the Administration's ability to carry out the President's defense strategy," it said. 

The top concern listed is the House bill's usage of $18 billion from a war fund to pay for items in the base budget. 

House Republicans are betting that the next administration will make up the shortfall in war funding when it takes office next year. 

The statement called the approach, which could leave war funding $18 billion short next April, "dangerous" and "wasteful." 

The House bill would use the war funding pay for retaining 20,000 Army soldiers the Pentagon planned to cut and to buy fighter jets, ships and helicopters that the services requested but were not included in the Pentagon's proposed budget request. 

"The bill would buy excess force structure without the money to sustain it, effectively creating hollow force structure that would undermine [Department of Defense's] efforts to restore readiness," the statement said. 

The administration also warned the bill could unravel a bipartisan deal reached last year to increase defense and non-defense spending by certain amounts and jeopardize future bipartisan cooperation.

"By gambling with warfighting funds, the bill risks the safety of our men and women fighting to keep America safe, undercuts stable planning and efficient use of taxpayer dollars, dispirits troops and their families, baffles our allies, and emboldens our enemies," the statement said. 

The statement also criticizes the bill's rejection of another round of military base closures, "unwarranted restrictions regarding detainees at Guantanamo Bay" and the inclusion of provisions "non-germane" to defense. 

"The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to address these and other concerns," the statement said. 

Although Democrats on the committee opposed using war funding for base budget items, the bill passed 60-2, with only two Democrats voting against.