If a House bill extending the “global war on terror” beyond the post-9/11 mandate, and placing new restrictions on trying detainees and implementing the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” manages to get through the Senate, the president will likely veto it.
This according to a report Tuesday in Talking Points Memo:
Now that Osama bin Laden is dead, House Republicans, led by Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA), are attempting to update the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force — the legal underpinning of the war on terror — so it doesn’t phase out as the connection between existing terrorist groups and the September 11 attacks themselves becomes more and more tenuous over time.
The House is debating the bill with a vote expected later this week.
The new language jettisons references to September 11, and instead focuses on the authorization on “armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces,” though “associated forces” is not defined. It replaces the authority to target “organizations” and “persons” domestically with the power to target “all entities that continue to pose a threat to the United States and its citizens, both domestically and abroad.”
Progressive Democrats and anti-war activists argue that the looser language will allow the President to initiate military action even more broadly, and without the consent of Congress — effectively perpetuating the war indefinitely.
The administration is also threatening, for the first time, to use the president’s veto power to push back on bipartisan Congressional attempts to stop detainees from being transferred from Gitmo and tried in U.S. civilian courts, and there are other “red flags” pointed to by the White House, including:
Specifically, the letter from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget warns that Obama’s advisors will recommend a veto of the bill over limitations on the development of a main engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — a move the administration sees as a way to possibly keep alive an alternate engine that the White House has been trying to cancel.
A veto also is threatened over provisions involving the implementation of the New START Treaty. White House officials say one provision would prevent the dismantling of nuclear weapons that are in excess of military needs and that a second encroached on presidential authority to set policy for nuclear weapons.
The third veto threat involves provisions related to detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Language in the bill would limit detainee transfer, which the policy statement calls a “dangerous and unprecedented challenge” to executive powers by precluding the option of conducting trials in federal courts. Another provision would restrict transfers of detainees to other countries, which the statement says would interfere with foreign policy and national security decisions.
The administration also objects to provisions Republicans want to insert into the defense bill that would require DADT certification to be expanded to include the heads of each of the military branches, and a provision that would apply the Defense of Marriage Act to all Department of Defense regulations — effectively making it impossible for gay troops to receive marriage-like benefits, even after repeal.
House leaders had hoped to pass the $689 billion “must-pass” bill, HR 1540, by Memorial Day.