The Senate this Wednesday has approved the defense bill that avoids spending cuts of military budget. President Barack Obama is expected to veto the bill and urge Congress for a broader budget bill.
The House of Representatives has already approved the legislation with a vote of 270-156 and the Senate passed it with a vote of 70-27, thus approving $612 billion of the defense policy bill. This means that the National Defense Authorization Act allows the Pentagon to use $90 billion war money so that budget cuts to the military can be avoided due to the short-term budget that ends in December.
President Obama has stated that he wants Republicans to come up with a broader budget deal in order to lift military and domestic spending through 2017. According to Reuters, the Obama administration has said that the Department of Defense would be better off with a “multilayer budget deal than by what they call a one year gimmick.” White House spokesman Josh Earnest has called the legislation an irresponsible way for funding the core national defense priorities.
It is expected that Obama would veto the bill passed by the Senate and Republicans have not gathered enough votes to override it. The Senate would need to get two-thirds of its votes in order to override Obama’s veto and the House of Representatives is short of the 290 needed to override it. Democrats have stated that they will not support because of a possible shutdown of the government. On the other hand, Republicans have stated that Obama’s veto is putting national security at risk and does not offer anything new as an alternative for the dispute.
The bill prohibits cruel interrogation and torture techniques such as water boarding and prohibits the administration from closing the Guantanamo Bay Detention facility and taking Guantanamo prisoners of war and transferring them to the United States, something that Obama has been urging for from the beginning of his first presidency.
It also extends cyber warfare capabilities and expands military retirement benefits. The Pentagon has said that the bill would fund weapons programs and that there is no need of their funding. The policy allows a 1.3 percent pay raise for the troops, allowing base commanders to create new rules on carrying personal firearms on duty and provisions to send weapons to Ukrainian fighters.
Democrats and Republicans have until the 11th of December to reach an agreement on a new long-term budget deal. If they do not succeed in that, they might reach a new short-term budget deal or even face another threat of a partial shutdown of the White House. Obama has 10 days to veto the authorization bill and expect a new one.