A thorny 612 billion dollars defense policy bill passed U.S. House on Friday in defiance of President Obama’s veto threat.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year 2015 was passed on Friday with 269 votes for and 151 against after a bundle of amendments and fiery discussions enclosed. The NDAA in its present form is argued to overpass the cap imposed in 2011 on defense and domestic spending limits. At the same time, it hinders the President’s plans for terminating the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, currently hosting suspected terrorists.
As expected, GOP members cast their vote overwhelmingly in favor of the bill, with Democratic Party members following closely in line. 143 Democrats voted against the defense policy bill, with 41 Democrats joining the GOP lead.
For those Democrats that raised their concerns in the House regarding the bypassing of the 2011 cap that would dramatically increase cuts in domestic spending, they were met with House speaker John Boehner comment that:
„They are letting politics come before national security”.
As of now, the House version of NDAA mirrors that of the Senate in military funding. While keeping the ceiling on defense spending, it increases the Pentagon’s war fund. On Thursday the Senate voted the authorization of 523 billion dollars in base funding for the Defense Department. 90.2 billion dollars are foreseen for the emergency war-fighting fund, known as the Overseas Contingency Operations fund.
However, the thorny issues were not limited to budget talks.
Among the provisions that were pushed back by the White House was the increased difficulty posed by the defense bill to closing Guantanamo Bay. Under current provisions, it will be harder to transfer individuals held in Guantanamo to other countries.
Another measure resisted by President Obama was arming the Ukrainian forces countering the Russian-backed separatist movement. In the same line, the White House had so far opposed measures that would bypass the Iraqi government, funding the Iraqi Kurdish fighters directly.
Perhaps the thorniest of the provisions debated before the passing of the NDAA was the cutting of military service positions by 20 percent while allowing immigrants to serve. The House was overwhelmingly arguing to strip amnesty language from the NDAA.
Previously, President Obama had passed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) piece of legislation. This represents an executive amnesty to serve aimed at illegal immigrants.
The amendment that would have introduce this provision into the NDAA was swiped by the House Armed Services Committee on grounds that amnesty language has nothing to do with the NDAA’s overall purpose and immigration debates belong somewhere else.
Image Source: Haaretz