Republicans are vowing to try and override President Obama’s veto of a defence policy bill and will use the coming weeks to ramp up pressure on Democrats.
House Republicans will vote on next month but Democratic leaders insist they will be able to sustain the president’s veto in the House and Senate.
The House approved the bill 270 to 156; Republicans need 20 more lawmakers to help override the president’s veto.
The bill helps the Pentagon circumvent budget caps with extra money for a war fund. But Obama vetoed the measure and is calling on Congress to raise both defence and non-defence spending.
Republicans believe they have the political advantage and are pressuring Democrats, blasting out statements highlighting how local communities could be affected by the veto of the bill, which authorizes Pentagon policies and spending for 2016.
At the same time, defence hawks are looking ahead to budget talks with the White House and drawing a line in the sand.
Congressman Michael Turner issued a letter earlier this week to House leadership on behalf of 102 House Republicans who say they won’t go any lower than $561 billion for the Pentagon’s base requirements —the amount the president had requested.
Turner says it doesn’t matter how Republicans get to that number, but that it’s their bottom line for base requirements — not including money in the war funding account.
The White House and Republicans have until December 11 to negotiate a budget deal, approve a short-term funding measure or let the government shut down.
Senate Republicans will have an opportunity to highlight the president’s veto when Defence Secretary Ashton Carter testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee panel this coming Tuesday.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford is also scheduled to testify, along with Carter, in the hearing, which will be focused on strategy in the Middle East.
Also on Tuesday, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) will hold a hearing on how to shorten the defence acquisition cycle.
Later Tuesday, a HASC subcommittee will hear about undersea warfare.
On Wednesday, a HASC subcommittee will hear from outside experts and Pentagon officials about the Transition Assistance Program, which seeks to help service members and their families transition to civilian life.
A House Foreign Affairs subcommittee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the humanitarian crisis in Syria, with testimony from the State and Homeland Security departments.
The same day, a different Foreign Affairs subcommittee will hear about religious freedom around the world.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hear about strategy in the Middle East on Thursday from State Department officials, including retired Gen. John Allen, the outgoing special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Also on Thursday, a House Armed Services subcommittee will hear from outside experts on nuclear deterrence.
SOURCE: THE HILL