On Wednesday, Senate Armed Forces Committee Chair John McCain (R-AZ) and House Armed Forces Committee Chair Mac Thornberry (R-TX) spoke to reporters following the Senate’s 70-27 vote to pass the fiscal year 2016 Defense Authorization Conference Report. The two addressed President Obama’s threatened veto.
Today, the U.S. Senate voted 70-27 to deliver final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (NDAA), a defense policy bill that makes significant reforms to the U.S. Department of Defense while reinvesting savings in enhancing the readiness and capabilities of our nation’s military, according to a Statement from McCain.
“Today Congress met its most important constitutional duty to provide for the common defense by passing the National Defense Authorization Act. The overwhelming bipartisan majority of the Congress has spoken: 70 members of the Senate voted for the defense authorization bill. 270 members of the House of the Representatives voted for the defense authorization bill. Now the bill will head to the President’s desk.
“With threats to our national security growing around the world, with our troops still in harm’s way in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, and with a clear bipartisan consensus in the United States Congress on the vital importance of this legislation, it’s time for our Commander-in-Chief to sign the defense authorization bill and give our men and women in uniform the authorities and the support they need to defend the nation.”
In recent weeks, President Obama has threatened to veto the NDAA because of disagreements about broader spending issues unrelated to defense. Chairman McCain continues to argue that at a time of increasing threats to our nation, it would be misguided, irresponsible, and dangerous for the President to veto this bill and deny American service members the critical authorities and support that the NDAA provides.”
“We have done the research, there have been a total of 4 vetoes in the last 53 years on an NDAA, and every one of them was because of something inside the bill not something that was not outside the bill, which is the thing that the president is complaining about today,” said Thornberry.
Thornberry said that if the president vetoes the bill he loses nothing that he wanted, but if he vetoes the bill he risks losing those measures he valued.
“Think about the headlines today. Russians launch cruise missiles; a new ground offensive is starting in Syria. There is danger wherever you look. This is absolutely one of the worst times I can imagine to veto a bill that supports our troops, that gives the president additional tools to push back against Russian aggression, that gives new tools to push back against ISIS. It really would be misguided and I hope the president will reconsider that,” said Thornberry referring to a veto.
“We have authorized every dollar the president requested,” stated Senator John McCain. “For him to veto what is fundamentally a budget bill – a policy bill, in the name of cost is inappropriate.”
“We have done our job on legislation that has been done in a bipartisan fashion,” stated McCain, who noted that he and Thornberry would not be with Boehner and McConnell in negotiations with the White House. “What we will be doing on every street corner in America, is talking about putting the lives of men and woman, who are serving in the military, in danger over a budgetary fight.”
However, the USAF is attempting to destroy the A-10 by not spening the money Congress has allotted for maintenance. As a result, an effort is under way by those, who support the military men and women, to contact their senators and strongly encourage them “to stand up for our ground troops and prevent the Air Force’s effort to conduct a backdoor divestment of the A-10,” by signing Senator Ayotte’s A-10 letter. In Wisconsin, those who support the boots on the ground, are encouraged to call Senator Baldwin at 202-224-5653.
• Fully funds Army’s request for 64 Apache helicopters;
• Increases the military’s budget to purchase 49 additional Tomahawk missiles;
• Increases the military’s budget by $140 million to purchase additional anti-tank missiles;
• $16.9 million for C-130 storage and cleaning facilities;
• $50.6 million for aircraft maintenance facilities;
• $33 million for an Air Force Squad Operations Facility;
• $13.2 million for an aircraft maintenance hangar;
• $5.5 million for a bomb maintenance facility;
• $5 millionfor a fuel offloading facility; and
• $45 million for Operation Phalanx, which would increase border security operations by the National Guard along the southern border and could result in an approximately 60 percent increase in aerial surveillance of the region;
• Up to $75 million in additional assistance to Customs and Border Protection operations to secure the southern border, which may include the deployment of personnel, surveillance assets, and intelligence support;
• $50 million to address U.S. Southern Command’s unfunded priorities to increase surveillance and interdiction operations in Central America, a primary transit point for illicit trafficking into the United States; and
• Enables the Secretary of Defense to transfer excess defense articles and equipment to the Department of Homeland Security for border security activities.