The Senate Republican leadership intends to bring up the $612 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the coming week, setting the stage for another major partisan battle on the Senate floor, with a White House threat to veto it looming over the proceedings.
The bill has a number of controversial clauses, but the main bone of contention seems to be the $38 billion in extra Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending, a segment of the budget meant for “emergency military funding” but increasingly covering random expenditures, with the Pentagon allowed to juggle this portion of their spending around more or less at will.
Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – KY) expressed concern about a possible filibuster, the latest in a series of them coming to the Senate floor, and getting the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster might not be so easy, with most of the Armed Services Committee’s Dems opposed to the bill, and at least two Republicans, Sens. Rand Paul (R – KY) and Ted Cruz (R – TX) also in opposition.
If the bill passes, which it will if it can overcome a filibuster, it then has to contend with the veto threat, with Defense Secretary Ash Carter urging Obama to follow through and veto it as “irresponsible.” Though the White House was already talking veto, he had threatened to veto the bill in past years and ultimately backed down.
A lot of the Republican leadership seems to be betting Obama will not follow through on the veto again this time, and committee chair Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) is also threatening to hold up civilian defense nominees to punish the administration if the veto actually happens.