Obama Administration threatens to veto defense budget
The Obama Administration on Tuesday threatened to veto the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 over provisions related to Guantanamo Bay and same sex marriage.
The House Armed Services Committee approved the $642 billion defense budget last week by a 56-5 vote. The budget is $8 billion over the military spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011.
The legislation would continue to prevent the Obama Administration from closing down Guantanamo Bay by prohibiting the transfer of detainees to the United States or a foreign country.
“The Administration continues to strongly oppose these provisions, which intrude upon the Executive branch’s ability to carry out its military, national security, and foreign relations activities and to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement (PDF).
The defense budget would also prohibit same sex marriage ceremonies on any military installation. The White House described the provision as a “troublesome and potentially unconstitutional limitation.”
Last year, debate raged over the multi-billion dollar defense funding bill. Civil liberties advocates and others warned that provisions in the NDAA of 2012 could allow the military to detain terrorism suspects on U.S. soil without charge or trial, even if they were U.S. citizens.
Obama threatened to veto the entire bill because of the provisions, which he said were “inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets.” But he eventually signed a later version of the NDAA, which exempted U.S. citizens from the requirement for terror suspects to be held in military custody.
While signing the bill in December, Obama issued a statement in which he pledged that the new laws would not violate Americans’ constitutional rights. But human rights advocates said Obama’s signing statement did not prevent future administrations from abusing the law.
The NDAA of 2013 includes language supporting habeas corpus rights, stating that any U.S. citizen detained in the United States must have his or her day in court. But Reps. Adam Smith (D-WA) and Justin Amash (R-MI) have pushed for an amendment that would add further protections to those detained on U.S. soil.
Former high-ranking officials under Presidents Reagan and Bush have pushed back against the Smith and Amash amendment, claiming that the current language is enough and that the proposed amendment goes to far.
“Rewarding terrorists with greater rights for making it to the United States would actually incentivize them to come to our shores, or to recruit from within the United States, where they pose the greatest risk to the American people,” they wrote in a letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon. “Such a result is perverse.”
The Office of Management and Budget’s statement made no comment on the provisions related to habeas corpus rights, Section 1032 and 1033.