White House Highlights Need for BRAC in Veto Threat over Senate Measure

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Tuesday cited the lack of language authorizing a new BRAC round as one of the key factors that could prompt President Obama to veto the Senate version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill.

OMB’s “Statement of Administration Policy” echoed the veto threat the agency issued last month in response to the House version of the policy bill. Both statements highlighted the need for a BRAC round and the bills’ reliance on DOD’s war account to boost its budget rather than raising the Budget Control Act spending caps as issues that would need to be resolved before the president would sign the legislation.

Tuesday’s statement said the administration “strongly objects” to the failure of the Senate version, S. 1376, to authorize an additional BRAC round. “The administration strongly urges Congress to provide the BRAC authorization as requested, which would allow DOD to right-size its infrastructure while providing important assistance to affected communities, freeing resources currently consumed by maintaining unneeded facilities.”

OMB also reiterated the administration’s threat to take alternative actions if Congress does not authorize additional base closures.

“In the absence of authorization of a new round of BRAC, the administration will pursue alternative options to reduce this wasteful spending and ensure that DOD’s limited resources are available for the highest priorities of the warfighter and national security,” the agency said.

OMB’s statement was issued ahead of the start of debate over the legislation in the Senate on Wednesday.

The statement’s criticism of the measure’s gambit to evade the spending caps drew the ire of John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“The NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] is a policy bill. It does not spend a dollar. It provides the Department of Defense and our men and women in uniform with the authorities and support they need to defend the nation. It is not the place for fights over government spending,” McCain said Tuesday.

The bill authorizes $523 billion in base defense spending, but oversteps the spending caps by boosting DOD’s war account to $89 billion. The president requested that Congress relax the caps to allow base defense spending to rise to $551 billion, reported the Hill

“Holding the NDAA hostage to force that solution would be a deliberate and cynical failure to meet our constitutional duty to provide for the common defense,” McCain said.

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