Veto Threat Over Circumvention of Defense Caps

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The administration is threatening to veto defense policy legislation that House and Senate lawmakers recently negotiated because it includes nearly $40 billion in additional war funding that the military did not request.

The negotiations took place after each chamber passed its own proposed version of the National Defense Authorization Act earlier this year. The House passed the compromise legislation Thursday on a 276-156 vote. Senate approval is expected.

Some Republican lawmakers sought the additional war funding, which is exempt from caps on regular defense spending. In recent years, lawmakers have repeatedly used war funding to circumvent spending caps — despite criticism from budget watchdog groups and some lawmakers in both parties.

The bill also includes some changes to military compensation practices, but omits other needed compensation reforms. The legislation would revamp the Pentagon’s pension system and increase co-pays for prescription drugs. Unfortunately, the legislation does not include broader reforms of the military health care system, the fastest-growing part of the defense budget.

External links:
Proposed National Defense Authorization Act
Administration to Veto Defense Authorization (Roll Call)
Statement from Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain
Statement from House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry
The Difference Between Authorization and Appropriation

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