An internal Pentagon memo surfaced Tuesday detailing a political strategy for the Secretary of Defense and other defense officials to play “hardball” against House Republicans on the annual defense budget.
First reported by POLITICO, the memo details the Pentagon’s plan to play lawmakers against one another in order to defeat the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — a controversial effort to boost military spending by $18 billion, which could provide the largest troop pay raise in years and reverse an Army drawdown.
President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the bill.
“In short, we should attack the … gimmick and be prepared to play hardball opposing it,” according to the memo co-written by DOD Comptroller Mike McCord and Stephen Hedger, assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs. “The veto threat is our primary weapon. However, a veto threat only works if it is supported by the Democratic leadership and their caucuses. Our job is to encourage and support those efforts.”
“The Obama Administration has a track record of using our military men and women as pawns in their political game, but this memo makes clear they have no shame in doing so,” said Byrne in a news release. “There is no greater responsibility of the Congress than to provide for the common defense, and we cannot allow these kind of petty politics to stand in our way.”
The memo, dated May 13, surfaced as House and Senate members returned to Washington for the first time since July after a long summer recess, where military budget negotiations will soon resume.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the NDAA in May on a bipartisan vote of 277 to 147.