President Barack Obama issued the fifth veto of his presidency Thursday when he vetoed the annual defense authorization bill. The $612 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) funds the country’s military and national defense.
In an peculiar Oval Office ceremony, Obama praised the bill for making sure the military is funded and making improvements in cybersecurity and military retirements. Yet he accused Republicans of resorting to “gimmicks” and prohibiting other changes necessary to address modern security threats.
“Unfortunately, it falls woefully short,” Obama said. “I’m going to be sending it back to Congress, and my message to them is very simple: Let’s do this right.”
The Alabama delegation criticized the President’s move calling it politically motivated.
“Today, America’s Commander-in-Chief put politics above country by holding America’s military hostage in a sordid effort to coerce Congress into spending more money on programs unrelated to national defense,” said Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-05). “President Obama’s veto weakens an already bludgeoned Defense Department that is hamstrung by sequestration and laying off tens of thousands of American military personnel. It is outrageous that President Obama and the White House so willingly play politics with America’s national security.”
Rep. Mike Rogers, who served as a Conferee for this year’s NDAA and sits on the House Armed Services committee, shared in Brook’s sentiments, “I am deeply disappointed, but not surprised that President Obama vetoed this bipartisan and critical piece of legislation, not for what was in it, but for what was not in it.”
National security was also a chief concern to many in the Alabama delegation.
“The NDAA funds our troops and our national security, and the president should be ashamed of himself for playing political games with our brave men and women in uniform and our country’s safety,” continued Rogers.
Rep. Gary Palmer (AL-06) agrees. “With his veto, the President is not only placing our national security at risk by failing to authorize funding for our military, but is undermining our national security by demanding more domestic spending that further increases our national debt,” Palmer said. “As the Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen said, ‘The most significant threat to our national security is our debt.'”
“President Obama’s decision to veto the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act is a slap in the face to all those who serve in our nation’s military,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01). “From Iraq to China to Russia to Iran to Afghanistan to Syria, our nation has never faced a wider range of threats, and it is reprehensible for our Commander-in-Chief to veto this critical defense bill over matters that have absolutely nothing to do with defense.”
Byrne continued, “If the President wants to have a debate about increasing spending on non-defense programs, then I welcome that debate. But we shouldn’t hold our military and their families hostage in the process.”
The President’s veto will face a House Republican-led override attempt Nov. 5, though it is unknown whether the GOP can garner the support necessary to overcome Democratic opposition.
“I don’t know if the votes exist to overturn this veto, but we will start right away working to earn them,”said Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02). President Obama should be ashamed for placing his personal political agenda over the needs of our military.”
Earlier this month, the NDAA passed the House by a vote of 270 to 156, with 37 Democrats voting in support. The NDAA passed in the Senate by a veto-proof vote of 70 to 27, with 21 Democrats voting in favor of the bill.