$51B spending bill attracts veto threat

$51B spending bill attracts veto threat
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The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto a $51.4 billion bill that would fund the Justice and Commerce departments as well as science agencies for fiscal 2016.

“The President's senior advisors would recommend that he veto H.R. 2578 and any other legislation that implements the current Republican budget framework, which blocks the investments needed for our economy to compete in the future,” the White House said.

The measure, according to the veto threat, “drastically underfunds critical investments in research and development.”

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For example, the bill includes $50 million for a new Community Policing Initiative requested by President Obama. Of that amount, $15 million would be intended for body cameras. That's much less than the $50 million the White House requested from Congress for body cameras for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

At the Commerce Department, the Census Bureau’s proposed funding level would increase taxpayers’ cost for the 2020 Decennial Census by billions of dollars, the White House said.

Science and space agencies like NASA would also receive insufficient funding levels, the veto threat said. Funding for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program would be cut, the White House said. That program is meant to help end U.S. reliance on Russia for transporting astronauts to the International Space Station.

The White House also criticized controversial policy riders in the bill that would prohibit funding for the transfer of detainees at the Guantánamo Bay prison to the United States. The administration also slammed provisions that would stop efforts to combat illegal gun trafficking and some that would limit the export of goods to Cuba.

On Tuesday, the House will begin to consider the bill, but final passage might not happen for a few days. The House is expected to consider the bill funding transportation and housing programs next, which the administration has also threatened to veto.