October 23, 2015
President Obama vetoed the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, which sets
budgets and policies for the military.
Thousands of MOAA
members wrote the president urging him not to do so.
“We are deeply
disappointed by the president’s veto of this bipartisan defense authorization
bill,” said MOAA President Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, USN (Ret). “It sends the wrong
signal to our troops and their families at the wrong time.”
disappointing that the main sticking point involves what we see as a budget
Under the 2011
Budget Control Act, there are hard caps on both defense and non-defense
the defense cap is too low and jeopardizes readiness. But the President and
many in Congress believe the cap on non-defense spending is too low as well.
The debate over whether and how to raise the caps has Congress tied up in
But a nation at
war needs a defense bill, and it needs more money than the cap allows. So House
and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders used a technicality to get around
the cap. They authorized an extra $38 billion in a wartime contingency account
that’s not subject to spending limits.
vetoed the bill for two main reasons. First, he says (rightly) that using this
one-year mechanism fails to let the Pentagon plan for the future. Second, he
agrees with many in Congress that it’s wrong to let defense spend above the legal
limits while keeping the cap on non-defense accounts.
the defense bill is the wrong vehicle to wage this battle. It only authorizes
things; it doesn’t provide funding. The funding bills are tied up in a separate
political fight that Congress is going to have to work out over the next month
At this point,
legislators are scheduling votes to override the veto. But that takes a
two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate, and most think the votes
aren’t there. So it looks like the veto will stand until Congress finds a way
to untie the budget cap knot.
What does the
veto mean for national defense, and potentially for you? We covered that in a
previous update, which you can read here.