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Dan Gilmore / Nov. 9, 2015

Defense Budget Heads to Obama’s Desk Again

On Oct. 22, Obama vetoed the original bill.

If all goes well, Congress will send a revised Defense budget this week to Barack Obama for a second time. On Oct. 22, Obama vetoed the original bill because it upheld the sequester, it didn’t make as many reforms as Obama would have liked, and it kept in place the ban on transferring Guantanamo detainees to the United States. Congress reworked the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), slicing $5 billion in costs at a time when, for example, Japan is planning to arm itself with nuclear weapons because it can no longer trust in the U.S. as an ally. The question is now whether the cuts are enough for Obama’s political agenda. “This leaves Obama in an interesting position,” writes Heritage Foundation’s Justin Johnson. “Two (and a half) of his original justifications for vetoing the NDAA remain. If he signs the new NDAA, it will show that his previous veto was purely about political leverage, not policy objections or even the use of budget gimmicks. If he vetoes the new bill, he will be taking a stand on Guantanamo Bay provisions that were originally written by Democrats. And with the budget deal in place, there are likely enough Democrats in the House and Senate to override a veto.” As we wrote in the beginning of October, the cap on the military’s budget allows Congress to control the purse strings of America’s war chest. In gambling the money that goes to the defense of the nation, Obama is playing a high-stakes game in the balance of power.

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