Boehner to Sign Authorization Bill, Starting Clock on Obama Veto Threat

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) plans to sign the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill on Tuesday before delivering it to the White House, setting up an anticipated veto by President Obama.

Obama will have 10 days, not including Sundays, to veto the measure while Congress is in session, or it will become law. The White House has repeatedly threatened to return the legislation to Congress over its reliance on DOD’s overseas contingency operations (OCO) account to skirt the Budget Control Act spending caps.

As recently as last week White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, “The president’s intention to veto that legislation still stands, primarily because the bill includes this slush fund tactic that’s an irresponsible way to fund our most basic national security priorities.”

At today’s signing, Boehner will be accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Armed Services Committee Chair John McCain (R-Ariz.), his House counterpart, Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), and other lawmakers in an event intended to shame Obama for putting politics ahead of the nation’s armed forces, reported the Hill.

Congress most likely would sustain a veto, with a sufficient number of House Democrats already demonstrating they would side with the president when that chamber passed the bill earlier.

The bill would authorize the same amount the White House requested for national security spending, $612 billion. It leaves the discretionary budget caps in place, though, and authorizes only $496 billion for DOD’s discretionary base budget. (The measure authorizes additional sums for the Energy Department and mandatory spending by DOD.) To make up the shortfall, the measure shifts $38 billion in operation and maintenance funds from the base budget to DOD’s OCO account, which is not subject to the caps.

The White House has demanded that Congress lift the caps on both defense and non-defense spending, and return the $38 billion to DOD’s base budget.

McCain and Thornberry have argued that the administration’s fight over the spending caps is really a budget issue and, as a result, should be directed at appropriations legislation.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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