White House Threatens Veto Over Defense Policy Bill Cuts

The White House has issued a veto threat for the House version of the FY20 defense authorization bill, and the president has said he would not sign the defense policy bill in its current form.  The White House takes issue with the $733 billion national security topline budget in the House bill, which is $17 billion below the request.  The White House concerns were outlined in a July 9 Statement of Administration Policy.

The administration also objects to a number of provisions contained in the legislation, particularly in the area of nuclear weapons and missile defense.  Some of the provisions in question include:

  • A prohibition on the availability of funds for deployment of a low-yield ballistic missile warhead
  • A prohibition on the availability of funds for a mobile variant of the ground-based strategic deterrent missile
  • A $103 million reduction to the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program, which is intended to field a replacement for the Minuteman III ballistic missile
  • A $413 million reduction for the Missile Defense Agency
  • Reductions to a number of National Nuclear Security Administration programs
  • A $76 million reduction to the Prompt Global Strike program
  • A $500 million reduction for the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance program
  • A $376.4 million reduction to the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program
  • A $238 million reduction to the Large Unmanned Surface Vessel program

The Statement of Administration Policy is intended to serve as a notice to lawmakers as they draft a conference version of the FY20 defense authorization bill that reconciles differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation.  Some of these provisions may be addressed during the conference markup, but it is unlikely a conference bill would address every item on the administration’s list.  That doesn’t mean there is a guaranteed veto on the horizon, as veto threats are a fairly standard component of budget negotiations in Washington.

The House is working on its version of the bill this week, including the consideration of hundreds of proposed amendments.  The Senate passed its version of the bill in June.  The Senate bill supports a $750 billion national security budget.

About Shaun McDougall

As editor of International Military Markets, North America, Shaun has cultivated a deep understanding of the vast defense markets in the United States and Canada. Shaun's perspective on defense procurement and budget issues has been cited in a variety of defense periodicals, including Defense News and National Defense Magazine. Further, Shaun played an integral role in the development of Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast product, which offers an unprecedented level of insight into the Pentagon's acquisition budget. In addition to providing original analytical content for the U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, Shaun oversees an internal defense budget forecasting process involving Forecast International's team of skilled systems analysts following release of the DoD's annual budget request. Shaun is also in charge of managing Forecast International's Weapons Inventory database.

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