On Monday evening, after the GOP House Rules Committee wrapped up a hearing on the National Defense Authorization Act for the upcoming fiscal year, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued a 17-page veto threat, citing in part “unwarranted restrictions” that would make it more difficult for the president to fulfill his January 2009 executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba.
WH issues veto threat against Defense Authorization bill: objects to restrictions on transferring detainees from Gitmo & other provisions.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) May 16, 2016
Lengthy WH veto threat to defense bill. Objects to effort to close GITMO, civil rights to LGBT & wants to cut off $ to fly Confederate flag
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) May 16, 2016
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) May 17, 2016
The Washington Examiner reported that the House bill as drafted would prohibit the use of funds to transfer Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil. Under the objection of the states’ governors, the Obama administration has been scouting out stateside locations to house prisoners, including Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina, and two prisons in Colorado.
The OMB argued that restrictions on spending “would limit the ability of the executive branch to take the steps necessary to develop alternative locations for a detention facility, and from fulfilling its commitment to close the facility at Guantanamo.”
The president also threatened to veto the Veterans Affairs bill citing similar obstruction to his effort to close Guantanamo Bay.
Another WH veto threat: against Veterans Affairs bill. WH says insufficient funding & objects to restrictions on Gitmo alternative.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) May 17, 2016
WH threatens veto of Milcon/VA bill. Objects to restrictions on performance awards for sr VA officials & Gitmo closure provisions.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) May 17, 2016
House Speaker Paul Ryan issued his own statement today, arguing that the NDAA at its core “recognizes the need to build a 21st-century military.”
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) May 17, 2016
— Ed Royce (@RepEdRoyce) May 17, 2016
Another of the administration’s objections is the inclusion of an amendment by Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) that would allow the contracting of faith-based organizations, which the OMB says “would make it easier to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation,” adding that the Obama administration “is committed to promoting equal employment opportunities for all Americans regardless of who they are or who they love.”
House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told the Washington Blade, which calls the amendment anti-LGBT, that he found it “rather perverse” that some in Congress “believe that the president shouldn’t be taking actions to prevent discrimination.”
— Chris Johnson (@chrisjohnson82) May 17, 2016
As Reuters reports, it will be months before any of the legislation lands on the president’s desk for his to act on his veto threats.