by Geoff Ziezulewicz
Washington (UPI) May 17, 2016
The White House is threatening to veto the House Armed Services Committee's 2017 National Defense Authorization Act bill due to recommendations it calls "dangerous" and "wasteful," according to a statement of administration policy released Monday.
H.R. 4909 "fails to provide our troops with the resources they need to keep our nation safe," the statement reads. "The bill would redirect $18 billion of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds toward base budget programs that the Department of Defense (DOD) did not request, cutting off critical funding for wartime operations after April 30, 2017."
The legislation would purchase excess force structure without providing funds to sustain it, undermining the Pentagon's effort to restore readiness, the White House said.
The funding approach would also endanger the steps needed to undertake future Defense Department sequestration cuts.
"By gambling with warfighting funds, the bill risks the safety of our men and women fighting to keep America safe, undercuts stable planning and efficient use of taxpayer dollars, dispirits troops and their families, baffles our allies, and emboldens our enemies," the White House said. "If the President were presented with H.R. 4909, his senior advisors would recommend he veto the bill."
A House Armed Services Committee statement on the bill says it was passed with a bipartisan 60-2 vote last month.
"While he generally supports the OCO activities proposed by the President, [Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas] believes that an even higher priority is to ensure that the troops are prepared for those missions and other tasks they may be called upon to undertake," the committee said.
The statement notes the bill provides nearly $35.7 billion for overseas contingency operations through April 2017.
"The Chairman's expectation is that a new President assess the national security landscape and submit a supplemental budget request -- as is traditional in the first year of a new administration," the statement reads. "The total funding authorized for defense in the House bill is the same as the level proposed by President Obama's budget."
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