Senate Vote Puts Obama’s|Feet to Fire on Veto Threat

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Senate passed a military spending authorization bill on Wednesday, despite veto threats from the White House.
     The National Defense Authorization Act would authorize spending on military activities and construction, as well as for resources for active-duty military and veterans. Critics say the authorization skirts the limits put in place under the Budget Control Act by funneling $38 billion from the base military budget into the uncapped Oversees Contingency Operations account.
     President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the authorization legislation on the grounds of this budgetary issue.
     The Senate nonetheless adopted the conference report Wednesday by a 70-27 vote. Twenty-one Democrats voted in favor of the legislation, while Republican presidential hopefuls Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul voted against their party.
     Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., took to the Senate floor before the vote to deliver a lengthy floor speech imploring the president to sign the legislation for the benefits it offers to military members and their families.
     “This is not a spending bill, it is a policy bill,” McCain said before the vote. “It’s a reform bill. It is a bill that accomplishes what the constitution demands of us and what the American people expect of us.”
     As chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, McCain has been a vocal supporter of the bill. On Tuesday, he called Obama’s intention to veto the legislation “shameful” and “nonsensical.”
     Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the president vetoing the bill would be “yet another grave foreign policy miscalculation,” and touted the bill’s ability to help the United States fight the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
     “And if the president is serious in his just-restated commitment to taking all steps necessary to combat ISIL, then he’ll know that signing this bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act is anything but the ‘waste of time’ some of his allies might pretend it to be,” McConnell said on the floor. “It’s essential.”
     Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., attempted to block the legislation just before the vote by raising a budget point of order, claiming the bill was not in line with the Senate’s budgetary guidelines. The Senate easily waived the point of order by a vote of 71-26 before adopting the conference report.
     “The bill before us is not fiscally responsible,” Reid said before raising the objection. “Our troops deserve real funding not budget gimmickry. The bill does not do the job.”
     By rule the president would have 10 days to veto the legislation, which Congress could then override with a two-thirds vote in each chamber.

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