Obama Could Veto Defense Spending Bill With DADT

Uh-oh. Now that the full House has voted to approve DADT and the defense funding bill, there may be a monkey wrench in the works.

The House also approved funding for an alternative engine that Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants to eliminate. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it's not removed. At issue is "an amendment providing $500 million to continue developing a second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter." The Senate version didn't include the engine funding.

The White House warned again on Friday that the president's advisors would push for a veto if the money for the second engine remained in the bill.

What needs to happen: When the bills go to reconciliation, the House engine amendment needs to be dropped.

Also, Secretary Gates told upset members of the military today not to worry, DADT's repeal won't result in changes right away.

"The legislation involved is a deferred repeal," he said. "It would repeal 'don't ask, don't tell,' but only after — I repeat after — the ongoing Department of Defense high-level review is completed."


Gates also emphasized that the policy would only change after he, the president and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certified that allowing gays to serve openly would not hurt "unit cohesion, military readiness, military effectiveness and recruiting and retention."

Reuters puts it this way:

Gates, in his first major address to U.S. troops on the politically charged legislation, said he did not expect Congress to pass the repeal for months, perhaps not until the end of the year.

Even then, the U.S. military would have to give final approval and would not do so without a comprehensive review that included troops' input and a cautious plan for implementation.

Prediction: The engine funding will be dropped, the bill will pass with a repeal of DADT, but due to the need for the completion of a review, relief will be at least months away.

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  • Display: Sort:
    I wonder what would have happened (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Zorba on Fri May 28, 2010 at 08:59:22 PM EST
    if Harry S Truman had waited for a "review" to make sure that racially integrating the Armed Services wouldn't have hurt "unit cohesion, military readiness, military effectiveness and recruiting and retention"?  Can't imagine Truman waiting around like that, and can't imagine that he would have accepted any negative results (which, given the times, he may well have gotten).  I realize that DADT is a law, and as such, must be changed by Congress.  However, Obama could have used the "bully pulpit" (plus some back room arm-twisting) to push a final repeal before now.

    This Wiki article is interesting. (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by oculus on Fri May 28, 2010 at 09:06:04 PM EST
    It took 3 years after Truman's executive order for the military to implement it, and then only due to necessity in Korea.  link

    Very interesting, Oculus (none / 0) (#4)
    by Zorba on Fri May 28, 2010 at 09:19:36 PM EST
    Thanks.  One thing I do wonder- even after (or if) final repeal of DADT is approved by Obama, Gates, and the Joint Chiefs, how long will that implementation actually take?  I suppose the President, as Commander in Chief, could then immediately issue a "stop loss" order (but then, he could have done this before now, I believe- at least technically, if not necessarily politically feasible).  

    Is this the same bill (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Peter G on Fri May 28, 2010 at 10:35:15 PM EST
    that has the clause calling for an "investigation" of the lawyers who have volunteered to represent Guantanamo detainees?  If so, a veto may provide an opportunity to strip that provision out (if it survives the House-Senate conference in the first place).

    Uh, no (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by jbindc on Sat May 29, 2010 at 02:25:17 PM EST
    Since it's true. GE is located in Connecticut and there are plants in Kansas,a s well as in Indianapolis, Cincinnati, etc.

    Oh, and if you think it isn't about jobs in a district, you would be wrong (again).  Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME), whom you cited as introducing an amendment to cut the F136 program - guess what company is in Maine?  Yes, that would be Pratt & Witney - the company who stands to keep their monopoly on building this particular type of engine.

    So, again, you don't know my opinion, as I haven't given it.  For the record, this probably is a waste of money, but the fact that P&W's costs are supposed to increase almost 20% in the next few years, tells me this really isn't about saving taxpayers money.  It's about constitutents' jobs.

    May Congress force the Executive branch (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Fri May 28, 2010 at 09:08:54 PM EST
    to spend the money appropriated?

    Who Stuck The Measure In (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Fri May 28, 2010 at 11:16:44 PM EST
    Rep Chellie Pingree, put in an amendment to cancel the funding for the Joint Strike Fighter's Alternate Engine Program made by GE and RR (rolls royce).

    Wonder which Republican proposed the amendment? Obama promised to veto any bill included funding ($500mil) for the Joint Strike Fighter's Alternate Engine Program.

    Obviously s/he proposed the amendment assuming that Obama promised a veto and they would have effectively blocked the bill.

    Vetoing the bill would mean that the Patrick J. Murphy's amendment to repeal of the DADT would also go down.

    veto's effect (none / 0) (#7)
    by Molly Pitcher on Sat May 29, 2010 at 06:40:34 AM EST
    There's more than one way to kill a cat.

    More (none / 0) (#8)
    by jbindc on Sat May 29, 2010 at 10:49:47 AM EST
    Aviation Week

    The General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136 engine for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter appears increasingly likely to survive at least one more year after a slew of Capitol Hill developments created a scenario where the Obama administration's veto threat may fall victim to other priorities.

    Democratic-led votes by the House and a key Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) on May 27 pushing repeal of the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the military over homosexuality suddenly lined up that administration priority against any veto threats previously levied over defense acquisitions.

    The votes come as lawmakers prepare Fiscal 2011 defense authorization legislation, a highly popular policy bill made even more politically important this summer as Congress faces November elections that are expected to challenge Democratic control of one, if not both, chambers.

    Meanwhile, the whole House is now on record, literally, in defense of its Armed Services Committee's $485-million authorization of the F136. The House voted 231-193 against an amendment to the defense bill there that would have diverted F136 funds elsewhere, thus establishing a majority already willing to vote against a possible veto.

    At the same time, the corresponding Senate committee's chairman let it be known that he again supports having dueling engines and was "very encouraged" by the House. Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) told reporters on May 28 that while his panel took no action on F136 in its May 26-27 markup of the defense bill, he expects it to be a major issue by the time authorizers hash out a compromise of the two chambers' bills, and that he would like the F136 to continue. "It makes sense to have that competition," he said.

    Asked about the White House and Pentagon veto recommendation over the F136, Levin instead played up the comprehensive and otherwise popular provisions of the annual defense measure, like a 1.4% across-the-board pay raise for all members of the uniformed services. "It's difficult for me to believe the president won't look at the entire bill, rather than just one provision," said Levin, who has been an SASC leader for years.

    No veto (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Sat May 29, 2010 at 11:08:29 AM EST
    This alternate engine has been in the defense budget since the 1996 Defense Appropriations Act, and every year it gets passed.  Jobs in Kansas and Connecticut, as elsewhere depend on this engine being built, even if no one uses it (without it, it gives Pratt & Whitney a monopoly).

    It will get put back in the reconciliation bill and Obama will not veto because he politically can't afford to veto a bill that starts the process to repeal DADT.  It would be political suicide and he doesn't have the capital to spend right now.

    Other Way Around (none / 0) (#13)
    by squeaky on Sat May 29, 2010 at 12:16:32 PM EST
    Gates, wants this useless pork out of the bill. He has proposed trimming the bloated Pentagon budget of cold war type projects, and replacing them with projects that reflect the kind of warfare that is actually happening now.

    Ending the Air Force's F-22 Raptor program would leave it with 187 airplanes that cost on average $140 million a piece. Gates has said earlier that the F-22, which has not been used in either Iraq or Afghanistan, is geared too much toward future threats from a "near peer" adversary such as China....

    But Lieberman, and apparently jbindc, is against any reduction in spending for these monstrous mass killing machines:

    "If we stop the F-22 program now, our industrial base will suffer a major blow before the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter reaches full rate production," Senator Lieberman said in a prepared statement.

    When Gates arrived as defense secretary at the end of 2006, the number of troop fatalities and injuries in Iraq was at some of their highest. As a result, one of his chief acquisition initiatives was to buy new bomb-resistant vehicles for the troops to use in Iraq. But the existing procurement process was not suited to design, bid, and build these vehicles quickly. Gates frequently complained that it took too long to get the vehicles fielded for wars that had been under way for several years. (He eventually succeeded at getting hundreds of vehicles deployed.)


    I would hope that the Senate bill will prevail, and the pork will be thrown out, preserving DATA repeal.