Senators overcame a filibuster on the annual defense policy bill on Tuesday, which delivered a significant victory to Republicans which set up a battle with President Obama over a threatened veto on the bill, which does everything from raising troops’ pay to setting policy for Guantanamo Bay detainees.
This would be the fifth veto of the president’s tenure, and Republicans said given the popularity of the bill and the dangerous threats the military is facing overseas, an Obama veto would be the equivalent of declaring surrender.
A final vote is expected Wednesday before the bill is sent to Obama for review.
“I cannot imagine a president of the United States vetoing a bill that authorizes the ability of Americans to defend this nation under these most challenging circumstances,” said Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and chairman of the Armed Service Committee.
If Mr. Obama follows through on his threat, it would present the best chance yet for Congress to override him, which would take a two-thirds vote in each chamber.
There appears to be more than enough support in the Senate, which voted 73-26 Tuesday to head off a filibuster. From the Democratic caucus, 21 members sided with Republicans.
The House fell short of two-thirds support last week when it voted 270-156. Ten Republicans joined 146 Democrats in opposition, and many of them likely face intense pressure to support an override.
Deemed one of the few must-pass measures each year, the defense policy bill, known officially as the National Defense Authorization Act, sets spending levels and rewrites rules for the Pentagon for the fiscal year. It often addresses specific problems that have arisen since the previous bill.
This year’s version, for example, includes a Defense Department prod to determine whether those working at military recruitment centers can be armed. The provision is a response to the Navy recruitment center shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in July.
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