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GOP Warns Obama on Rejecting Defense Spending Bill

GOP Warns Obama on Rejecting Defense Spending Bill
President Barack Obama (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 07 October 2015 06:08 PM

Republicans warned President Barack Obama Wednesday against vetoing a $612 billion defense policy, cautioning the White House against playing politics with legislation that would jeopardize the nation's Armed Forces.

"A veto would mean that a president, for the first time in U.S. history, is holding troop pay and benefits ransom to try and extract more money for a domestic political agenda," House Speaker John Boehner said. "And it would leave America exposed as terrorists plot attacks against our homeland, Russia continues its acts of aggression, and Iran gains billions in sanctions relief from a deal that fails to shut off its path to a nuclear weapon."

"This is no time for our commander-in-chief to abandon America's men and women in uniform," Boehner said. "President Obama needs to stop putting domestic politics ahead of our troops and their vital missions."

Sen. John Thune, the South Dakota chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, called Obama's veto threat "radically irresponsible."

"As conflict spreads throughout the Middle East, we need a military that is strong, ready, and well-equipped," Thune said. "The bipartisan defense bill the Senate passed today is critical to preserving our military's technological edge and redirecting funds from the bloated Pentagon bureaucracy to focus precious defense dollars on our troops."

The Senate voted 70 to 27 Wednesday for the defense bill, with 20 Democrats breaking ranks. Independent Maine Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats, also supported the legislation.

Republican presidential candidates Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky voted against the measure, while Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida missed the vote.

Last week, the House passed the bill on a 269-to-151 vote, with enough Democratic support to sustain a presidential veto.

Obama has threatened to veto because he objected over how Congress endorsed the legislation. The bill increases defense spending by adding $38 million to a separate war-fighting account.

Lawmakers also refused to increase money for domestic agencies, which is what President Obama wanted.

If the president rejects the defense bill, it would be only the fifth time that has happened in the past half-century. The bipartisan measure is a rarity in Washington; it has become law every year for more than 50 years.

"I wish I could say it surprised me that President Obama might — for the sake of unrelated partisan games — actually contemplate vetoing a bipartisan defense bill that contains the level of funding authorization he asked for," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor before the vote.

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst afterward called the bill a "comprehensive blueprint that puts our Department of Defense on solid footing to stave off terrorist threats, permits lethal assistance to Ukraine, and includes breakthrough technologies and modernizations to meet the unique challenges we face in cyberspace and all around the world."

She also noted that the legislation barred the Obama administration from transferring terrorist detainees from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said the legislation "rightly gives our military additional funding to ensure our national-security strategy can once again begin to drive our military budget, rather than the budget setting our strategy."

"This legislation puts our national defense on the right track and lets our aggressors know they will pay an unspeakable price for challenging the United States."

"Regrettably, President Obama has already promised to veto this bill, illustrating that he prioritizes political talking points over our troops and our national security," Cotton added. "Military strength and moral confidence in the defense of America's national security are critical to our prosperity."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Republicans warned President Barack Obama Wednesday against vetoing a $612 billion defense policy, cautioning the White House against playing politics with legislation that would jeopardize the nation's Armed Forces.
gop, obama, defense, spending, bill
Wednesday, 07 October 2015 06:08 PM
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