Republicans Gear Up To Try And Override Obama’s Defense Budget Veto

Jonah Bennett

House Republicans have picked Nov. 5 as the date to override President Barack Obama’s veto of the annual defense budget bill, but Democrats think they can hold the line.

With the original House vote clocking in at 270-156, Republicans only need 20 more lawmakers to defect in order to successfully fight Obama’s veto, The Hill reports. This is the fifth time Obama has actually used his veto power, instead of just threatening to use it.

The problem with that assumption is that in the face of a veto, Democrats who first supported the defense budget may jump ship to avoid embarrassing the president.

Rep. [crscore]Michael Turner[/crscore] led the charge from the Republican side, saying in a letter on behalf of 102 House Republicans that they would not accept any proposal to decrease base funding for the Pentagon below $561 billion.

According to a report conducted by the Congressional Research Service, Congress does not have a successful track record in fighting off defense budget vetoes. In the last four times the White House has sent the legislation back, Congress caved, gave in and changed the offending provisions. (RELATED: Report: Congress Has Removed Defense Bill Provisions Four Times To Avoid Veto)

In this case, the White House has complained about a provision that adds additional restrictions on transferring prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay. The president has spent the last year desperately trying to make good on his campaign promise in 2008 to shutter the detention facility, despite congressional opposition. That opposition is especially fierce because of the possibility that hardened detainees might end up on U.S. soil. In other words, the Obama administration doesn’t believe that all detainees should be released. Some need to stay locked up indefinitely. But if Gitmo closes, they need a place to go.

As reports emerge of the Pentagon sending out scouting teams to determine the suitability of facilities for dangerous detainees, congressmen in those districts continue to come out hard against the proposals. Some of the facilities under question include Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and the Naval Brig in Charleston, S.C., as well as the Colorado State Penitentiary by Canon City. (RELATED: GOP Reps Promise To Do Everything In Their Power To Block Gitmo Transfers To Colorado)

But GOP Sen. [crscore]John McCain[/crscore], who has sided with the Obama administration on the status of Guantanamo Bay, blamed the White House for refusing to submit a draft closure plan for consideration to Congress.  (RELATED: McCain Blames Obama Administration For Not Submitting Gitmo Closure Plan In Time)

The White House has also complained about the use of Overseas Contingency Operations, an emergency war fund, to evade budget caps.

The deadline for Congress and the White House to come to a budget deal is Dec. 11. The options are: come to a compromise, allow a short-term funding measure, or neither, which would result in a government shutdown.

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