The Real Obama Liberal Legacy: Veto of the national defense bill

John Boehner

The Real Obama Liberal Legacy is a periodic series to highlight the results of liberal progressivism put into practice.

Next up, veto of the national defense bill. We are still a nation at war, but President Obama decided to put domestic pet projects above our troops.

The promise: “Our country’s greatest military asset is the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States. When we do send our men and women into harm’s way, we must also clearly define the mission, prescribe concrete political and military objectives, seek out the advice of our military commanders, evaluate the intelligence, plan accordingly, and ensure that our troops have the resources, support, and equipment they need to protect themselves and fulfill their mission.” —President Obama, 4/23/07

The reality: Last October, President Obama vetoed the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act—a bill to provide pay and critical resources to our men and women in uniform. In this unprecedented move, the president insisted that he will “not fix defense without fixing non-defense spending.” But what he’s actually saying is that he is not willing to spend to meet the needs of our troops, unless Congress pays the ransom of more money for his domestic, “non-defense” priorities.

Making ‘history’: As Senator McCain and Rep. Thornberry wrote at the time, “In vetoing this legislation, President Obama has made history, but for all the wrong reasons. He has become the first commander in chief willing to sacrifice national security by vetoing a bill that authorizes pay, benefits and training for U.S. troops, simply because he seeks leverage to pursue his domestic political agenda.”

But wait, there’s more: If blocking a critical defense bill wasn’t enough, the president decided to brag about it by holding an official veto photo-op at the White House. Beyond the dangerous policy implications, this kind of blatant political maneuvering sends the wrong message: Politics is more important to this president than protecting our troops.  

There’s a better way: This veto is a symbol of a bigger problem: During the Obama years, military readiness has been put on the back burner. We live in a dangerous and unpredictable world, and we need a military that is fully trained and equipped for today’s evolving threats. There’s a better way. House Republicans have put forth a specific plan that will address current shortcomings and help guide U.S. defense policy moving forward. This is what the men and women in uniform deserve.

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