Defense Spending Bill Showdown: Military Connection

Defense Spending

By Debbie Gregory.

The Senate and House Armed Services committees have reconciled their versions of the National Defense Authorization Act, setting the stage for a veto showdown with the Obama Administration.

The House passed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act Thursday after the House and Senate Armed Services committees reached agreement on a final conference report earlier this week.

On September 30th, t This year, the White House urged Republicans to lift federal budget caps for the Pentagon and non-defense spending in 2016. The Republican-proposed budget would leave those caps in place for non-defense spending but boost defense spending through a war fund not subject to those caps established in 2011.

President Obama has issued a veto threat against the bill, which senior administration officials warn he will follow through on. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Wednesday he has already recommended that the president veto it.

In regards to what would happen if the president does veto the bill, a senior staffer on the House Armed Service Committee said, “We’ll see what happens and move from there.”

The current version of the bill would keep the ban on bringing detainees from Guantanamo to the United States for another year. According to Sen. McCain, the Obama administration did not deliver a plan on where to house the detainees.

Other provisions of the bill would continue a ban on transfers to Yemen and add bans on transfers to Syria, Libya and Somalia. It would also allow one-year increases in military healthcare prescription co-pays. It would allow troops who serve fewer than 20 years to receive some retirement benefits, and allow troops to be able to take a lump sum payment after 20 years instead of waiting until they are 60 years old.

The bill would also allow the U.S. to provide arms to Ukraine; provide for coordination between the DoD and VA on mental health issues; allow troops on U.S. bases to carry arms, and ban torture by any U.S. agency.