White House threatens to veto $576B defense spending bill

White House threatens to veto $576B defense spending bill
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The White House is threatening to veto the House’s $576 billion defense spending bill over concerns that it shortchanges a war fund and doesn’t stick to a bipartisan budget agreement.

“The bill is inconsistent with the [Bipartisan Budget Act], and the administration strongly objects to the inclusion of problematic ideological provisions that are beyond the scope of funding legislation,” reads a statement of administration policy released Tuesday by the Office of Management and Budget. “If the president were presented with H.R. 5293, the President's senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

The veto threat comes as the House is set to take up the bill later Tuesday afternoon.

The appropriations bill would provide $575.7 billion for defense spending.

The total is divided into $517.1 billion for base requirements and $58.6 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.

But of the total OCO account, $15.7 billion would be used for base requirements such as readiness, infrastructure and modernization.

That would leave war funding dry by April 2017, forcing the next president to request supplemental funding when he or she takes office.

The same tactic was employed in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual defense policy bill, which also garnered a veto threat.

In opposing the defense appropriations bill, the administration said the money taken from the war fund would pay for equipment the Pentagon did not ask for and a larger force that can’t be sustained.

The bill would also effectively blow up last year’s Bipartisan Budget Act, statement added.

“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 says.

Further, the statement says, the bill would reject cost-saving measures, such as another round of base closures.

Among the six-page list of objections, the administration also opposed the fact that the bill would again prohibit funding to build or modify a facility in the United States to house Guantanamo Bay detainees or to transfer detainees stateside. 

“These provisions are unwarranted,” the statement reads, “and threaten to interfere with the executive branch's ability to determine the appropriate disposition of detainees and its flexibility to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees based on the facts and circumstances of each case and our national security interests.”