As the President addressed reporters ahead of his unprecedented Oval Office veto of the National Defense Authorization Act, he laid out a number of reasons for his veto. While people are entitled to their own opinion, they are not entitled to their own facts. Below, we set the record straight about this unprecedented and dangerous veto:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: The NDAA "keeps in place the sequester that is inadequate for us to properly fund our military in a stable, sustained way and allows all of our armed forces to plan properly…This bill instead resorts to gimmicks that does not allow the Pentagon to do what it needs to do”
FACT: As an authorizing bill, the NDAA does not have the power to end sequester. What it does do is authorize exactly the amount the President requested for the military- consistent with the Pentagon’s plans for the next fiscal year. The President may dismiss the use of the Overseas Contingency Operations fund (OCO), but the President himself, requested $51 billion in OCO funding. The NDAA identified and specifically authorized key programs within that fund to meet the needs of the military.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: The NDAA “prevents a wide range of reforms that are necessary for us to get our military modernized and able to deal with the many threats that are presenting themselves in the 21st century.”
FACT: This is the most reform-centered defense bill in decades. The NDAA implements fundamental reform of DOD’s broken and wasteful acquisition system, including twelve of the fourteen acquisition reforms the Department requested. The NDAA also modernizes military retirement, extending a portable 401(k)-style retirement plan to the 83% of troops who currently receive no retirement benefits.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: “This legislation specifically impeded our ability to close Guantanamo in a way that I have repeatedly argued is counterproductive to our efforts to defeat terrorism around the world.”
FACT: The President has never submitted a plan for closing Guantanamo Bay. Despite years of campaigning and veto threats, he has never proposed where detainees too dangerous to release might be held, or what he would do with new terrorist captures. The NDAA requests that he submit such a plan. The restrictions on closing GTMO and transferring GTMO detainees to the U.S. are exactly the same as restrictions signed into law by the President every year since 2010.
Before vetoing the bill, President Obama said he would send the bill back to Congress, asking “Let’s do this right.” Mr. President, the NDAA passed the House by a vote of 270-156 and the Senate passed it by 70-27. A wide bipartisan majority in Congress knows that this bill already “does it right.” On November 5th, the House will vote to override the veto and prove this fact.