President Obama on Tuesday reiterated his pledge to veto defense budget bills if Congress does not lift mandatory spending caps on several federal agencies, saying Republican funding plans jeopardize national security.
“(Sequestration) is not the way to keep our armed forces ready … or to keep America strong,” he told attendees at the Veterans of Foreign Wars annual convention in Pittsburgh. “These mindless cuts need to end.”
The comments were greeted with applause from veterans advocates even though the threat could undermine a host of military policy updates and reforms in coming weeks.
Lawmakers are finalizing details of the 2016 defense authorization bill this week — legislation that includes provisions to overhaul the military retirement system and the Pentagon’s acquisition processes.
But the bill also is based on a $612 billion spending plan for the Defense Department in fiscal 2016 that uses temporary war funds to sidestep spending caps mandated under the 2011 Budget Control Act.
Republicans have insisted the plan fully fund military needs without providing unnecessary money for other government agencies, and accused Obama of putting bloated federal programs ahead of troops’ needs.