House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) released the following statement regarding the President’s veto of H.R.1585, the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act:

    "I'm deeply disappointed by the President's announcement that he will veto this critically-needed defense authorization bill. Without it, our troops are at risk of losing many valuable benefits, including a much anticipated pay raise and the long overdue reforms to the health care system for our Wounded Warriors. Serious efforts to improve the readiness of our force and to reform contracting practices in Iraq and Afghanistan will also be needlessly delayed.

    "After the House and the Senate sent the defense authorization conference report to the President, the White House raised concerns about a provision relating to claims that may be brought by and on behalf of victims of state sponsored terrorism, including former American POWs, some of whom were tortured by Saddam Hussein’s regime during the first Gulf War. Despite Congress' pledge to expeditiously consider the issue raised, the President has decided to veto the entire bill over this provision that was adopted with strong bipartisan support in the Senate last September.

    "It is a shame that the White House has taken this step to satisfy the demands of the Iraqi government for whom our troops have sacrificed so much. The efforts of our troops and their families are too important to prevent them from receiving the benefits they deserve. I will continue working with my colleagues in the House and the Senate and with the President to find a way to get this crucial legislation enacted as soon as possible."