Congress Defense Spending

House, Senate GOP Debate Which Terrible Bill They Will Nominate for Veto

Written by SK Ashby

House and Senate Republicans have both passed their own version of this year's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an omnibus defense spending bill, but they have yet to agree on a single version which they will send to the president for a veto.

The Armed Services Committee chairmen from both chambers will reportedly meet this week with the intent of resolving their differences with some fairly far reaching consequences.

Perhaps most importantly, the two sides will debate whether we should open a pathway for closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Both bills would extend restrictions on releasing Guantanamo Bay detainees, but the Senate version would give the administration a path to close the prison.

If the White House submits a plan to close Gitmo and Congress approves it, restrictions on moving detainees to super-maximum security prisons in the U.S. would be dropped under the Senate bill.

As you might suspect, House Republicans are adamantly opposed to the idea of closing the prison and, given recent events, I'm highly skeptical that they will change their minds.

House Republicans have made it quite clear that they are opposed to the president's goal of normalizing relations with Cuba and they are undoubtedly reluctant to provide the president with a rhetorical "win." The two issues may be only loosely related, but I doubt they see it that way.

The prospect of blocking the president from closing the prison at Guantanamo for the umpteenth time is not the only reason the White House has stated that the president will not sign the GOP's NDAA.

The White House has also threatened to veto the GOP's NDAA because it would boost defense spending by pushing important domestic projects off the books by using a war contingency fund to pay for them. The Overseas Contingency Operations fund is not subject to spending constraints and exists outside the normal appropriations process and congressional Republicans intend to use it to fund new hospitals for veterans.