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ICYMI: Gus Bilirakis: Setting the record straight about Obama’s excuses for vetoing National Defense Authorization Act

October 29, 2015
Press Release

Last week, President Obama used his veto power for the fifth time since taking office to reject legislation that would help our military, their families and our country as a whole.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a crucial piece of legislation that will authorize necessary funds for the Department of Defense to provide our military with the tools they need to defend our country.

This bill represents a remarkable and, unfortunately, rare, display of bicameral bipartisanship.

As a member of the National Defense Authorization Act Conference Committee, I can attest to our diligent efforts to create a bipartisan bill that will ensure our military is prepared and we, as Americans, are safe.

Just last week, I laid out the many reasons this legislation is good for our nation in a Medium post.

The president had many excuses for his veto of the NDAA, and it is important to address some of his concerns and set the record straight.

This bill does not prevent “a wide range of reforms that are necessary for us to get our military modernized and able to deal with the many threats that are presenting themselves in the 21st century,” as the president claimed. In fact, this is the most reform-centered defense bill in decades. We worked to not only reform the Department of Defense, we also modernized our military retirement plan to include benefits for the 83 percent of troops who do not receive them.

We worked to ensure that this bill identified and specifically authorized key programs within the Overseas Contingency Operations fund to meet the needs of the military, though the president dismissed this altogether. He claimed the NDAA “keeps in place the sequester that is inadequate for us to properly fund our military in a stable, sustained way and allows all of our armed forces to plan properly…” This bill, however, is not directly related to the sequester. It, in fact, authorizes the exact amount the president requested for the military, which was consistent with the Pentagon’s plans for the next fiscal year.

The NDAA demonstrates that we in Congress can work together for our country, just as the president has asked us to time and time again. We came together, across the aisle and across the Capitol building, to address this important issue for our nation.

President Obama’s veto suggests that, even when we show bipartisan and bicameral cooperation, he will not work with us.

While our troops continue to fight for us every day, I will continue my efforts to fight for them.

We must ensure our military is equipped to handle the unprecedented amount of national security threats we face today. We must ensure that their families receive the support they deserve. We must ensure that our country, our families and our communities are safe.

As I’ve said before, when it comes to our national security, there is no time to waste. There is no time to play political games. Our military deserves much better.

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, represents the 12th Congressional District, which includes all of Pasco and parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

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