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Michael McAuliff
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House Defense Bill Receives Veto Threat From White House

Posted: Updated: 05/15/2012 7:00 pm

WASHINGTON -- The White House warned Congress Tuesday that President Barack Obama may be forced to veto a bill authorizing defense spending that the House of Representatives is set to pass later this week.

While the Obama administration is actively seeking passage of the defense bill, called the National Defense Authorization Act, it argued in a statement that the House was challenging the administration's authority and meddling with the spending agreement Congress reached last year during a showdown over extending the nation's debt limit.

The White House identified more than 30 separate problems with the measure, which was authored by the House Armed Services Committee and would set military spending levels for 2013. Chief among them is the fact that the $642 billion measure exceeds the amount the House agreed to in the Budget Control Act just last summer by $8 billion. House Republicans intend to offset that extra spending by cutting programs that aid the poor.

But the administration issued its veto threat over just two provisions.

The first is that bill incudes restrictions that "would impinge on the President's ability to implement the New START Treaty and to set U.S. nuclear weapons policy," the White House said, referring to the treaty that limits U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons stockpiles.

Secondly, the bill places a slew of restrictions on how the administration can handle detainees from the war on terror and changes the way in which it can jail and transport suspects, including enemies captured on the battlefield and held on naval vessels.

"The reporting requirements seek to micromanage the decisions of experienced military commanders and diplomats, threaten to compromise the Executive’s ability to act swiftly and flexibly during a critical time for transition in Afghanistan, and could deter or jeopardize the success of effective foreign prosecutions," the White House said.

The statement from the White House did not mention language about indefinite detentions of suspected terrorists -- including Americans -- that was the flashpoint in the battle over last year's NDAA. Opponents of that language have promised to try and amend the bill.

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