The Senate is expected to approve the conference report for the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill as early as today after the chamber on Tuesday voted 73-26 to limit debate on the measure.
At the same time, Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) vowed the Democratic caucus would uphold a possible veto by President Obama, reported the Hill. “Our Democrats have stated without question if it comes time that we sustain a presidential veto, that will be done,” Reid said. Republicans would need 67 votes to override a veto in the Senate.
The White House has said Obama would veto the $612 billion legislation over its reliance on DOD’s overseas contingency operations (OCO) account to evade the statutory spending caps. The White House has demanded that Congress lift the caps on both defense and non-defense spending, and return the $38 billion added to the OCO account to DOD’s base budget.
The president has threatened to veto the annual defense policy bill every year since he took office but has never carried it out. White House officials have indicated this year is different because of how the legislation in linked to the larger battle over raising the Budget Control Act caps.
The dispute over the authorization bill is simply part of the negotiations between the two branches of government, according to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
“Basically the president is negotiating, and if he vetoes this bill as he’s promised, we hope that he can sustain his veto to let the Republicans know we’re very serious about this,” Durbin said. “If we’re going to have a good authorization bill completed, we need to have the [war fund] provisions out.”