Pres Hussein Obama vetoes defense bill.(TheHill).
President Obama vetoed the annual defense authorization bill Thursday as part of an ongoing fight with congressional Republicans over the federal budget that has left a host of military policy changes caught in the crossfire.
The move puts in doubt whether lawmakers can complete a planned overhaul of the military retirement system and whether a host of military specialty pays and bonuses will be renewed in January. The authorization bill has been signed into law for 53 consecutive years, a rare piece of bipartisan compromise through eras of partisan fighting.
"As president and commander in chief, my first and most important responsibility is keeping the American people safe,” Obama told reporters at an unusual veto ceremony at the White House. “And that means that we make sure that our military is properly funded. … Unfortunately, (this bill ) falls woefully short in key areas.”
At issue is the $612 billion bill’s inclusion of authorizing language for roughly $38 billion in extra overseas contingency funds. Republicans are using the temporary war accounts to get around mandatory defense spending caps for 2016, without lifting caps for non-defense accounts.
Speaking from the Senate floor in favor of the bill, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the president’s veto threat as “yet another grave foreign policy miscalculation from this administration, something our country can no longer afford.”
- The bill, which sets guidelines for defense spending for the 2016 fiscal year, would authorize the establishment of a joint anti-tunnel program between Israel and the US. The initiative would be funded up to $25 million per year, provided that matching funds are provided by Israel.
- The bill would also provide over $206 million earmarked for rocket and missile defense ventures, including $41.4 million for the Iron Dome project, up to $150 million for procurement of the David’s Sling, and a maximum of $15 million for the Arrow 3 Upper Tier Interceptor Program.
- It also would require Congress to be briefed on the anticipated sale of fighter airplanes to Qatar including an analysis reflecting on the implications of the sale for Israel’s ability to retain its “qualitative military edge.” Speaking late last month in Washington, former IDF chief-of-general-staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz emphasized the commitment to Israel’s so-called “QME” as one of the highlights of the US-Israel relationship.
In addition to setting funding for joint US-Israel partnerships as part of the larger defense budget, the current legislation includes a number of policy dictates regarding US actions in the Middle East.
The bill would require the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State to jointly submit to Congress by mid-February “a strategy for the Middle East and to counter violent extremism.”
It would require the already-mandatory annual report on Iran’s military power to include a section on Iran’s cyberwarfare capabilities and would also require a new report on “any military-to-military engagements conducted by the Armed Forces or Department of Defense civilians with representatives of the military or paramilitary forces (including the al-Quds Force) of the Islamic Republic of Iran during the one-year period ending on the date of the submission of the report.”
The bill also contains what is called a “sense of Congress” clause, expressing concern that Iran’s activities “justify continued pressure by the United States” and that as a result, the US should continue to work with regional partners to counter Iranian threats. Hmmm.......Has armed every enemy of Israel during his term, while Grinding America down ..one day at the time. Read the full story here.