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Obama administration threatens defense bill veto

The Obama administration has threatened to veto the defense policy bill that the Senate began considering on Wednesday morning, citing the proposed budgeting and numerous provisions that run counter to the military’s priorities.

The president’s budget office reiterated the complaint it has made to the House and Senate this year: that Congress is using a war account to fund normal operations to get around spending caps in the law.

The administration also pointed to numerous weapons systems that senators are trying to protect against proposed Pentagon cuts; among those are the AWACS planes at Tinker Air Force Base that Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, has shielded for the past year.

The Senate bill also blocks another round of base closures. The administration has asked repeatedly for authorization for a new round.

The administration also takes aim at the Senate bill’s proposed cuts in the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for married service members or ones living together.

The housing allowance “is a part of every member's regular military compensation and is designed to provide a cash housing allowance. Section 604 (of the defense bill) would impose a significant marriage penalty when a member is married to another member. This section would penalize members who choose to reside with other members as compared to those members who choose to reside alone or share housing with nonmembers. This action would seem to conflict with the fundamental fiscal responsibility required of our service members.:The administration said the housing allowance cuts “will have a disproportionate negative impact on women service members, where 20 percent of women on active duty are in a dual military marriage, compared with only 3.7 percent of active duty men.”These women will lose significant benefits and support they are owed for their service to our country.”

Chris Casteel

Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Casteel covered the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City. From 1990 through 2016, he was the... Read more ›