Bob Goodlatte: Veto of funding for troops must not stand

goodlattefourinThey protect and defend – spending months away from home and loved ones, risking their lives for the cause of freedom. The sacrifice of the U.S. Armed Forces is great, and these men and women in uniform know all too well the danger they face. They know it’s not a game, and shouldn’t be treated as one. Ensuring our military has the resources they need to operate effectively and protect the American people is nothing to be delayed or held hostage by one signature.

But with just a stroke of his pen, President Obama recently vetoed a bill to authorize funds for our nation’s troops. The President’s veto of his own military threatens national security and plays politics on the back of our troops. His veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016 is disappointing, especially since this bill included the funding levels requested by the President himself.

This was an opportunity for President Obama to lead on a bill that makes important reforms to wasteful defense programs, ensures our troops receive benefits they’ve earned, provides additional protections for military sexual assault victims, modernizes military retirement, and provides resources for cyber defense. Instead, his veto only serves to stand in the way of our military’s mission to provide for the common defense.

At a time when our nation faces numerous security threats from the likes of ISIS, Iran, and North Korea, it is critical that the Department of Defense has the authority to carry out vital programs. Ironically, the President has vetoed this legislation even though just days ago he announced he would extend our military presence in Afghanistan. Our own Commander-in-Chief blocking the authorization for military funding is not the message we should be sending to those across the globe who wish to do our nation harm.

The NDAA overwhelmingly passed the House and Senate only to be stopped on the President’s desk as a result of political posturing. Instead of signing this bill to authorize funds he requested for our military, he wanted to use it as a bargaining chip to do away with caps keeping down nondefense, domestic spending. Military readiness and standing behind our Armed Forces should be a priority. However, the President is prioritizing signing nuclear deals with Iran and moving prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay over our nation’s troops.

It is unacceptable and irresponsible to play political games on the backs of our men and women in uniform. Congress must not allow the President’s short-sighted veto to stand. For the men and women on the front lines and the families of our troops waiting at home, the House will continue working to see this wrong corrected and ensure our military has the support and resources our troops and nation need.

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