Political Confrontation Behind NDAA, Veto Threat

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) suggested Tuesday that President Obama’s threat to veto the defense authorization bill, which would allow “exactly what he said was needed” in defense spending, was an attempt to provoke a political confrontation. In a far-reaching speech to the Atlantic Council, Thornberry emphasized the need for a comprehensive national security strategy and increased defense funding to address the growing array of security threats from an aggressive Russia, rising China, and ISIS extremists. Asked if there was any chance for a political compromise to end or ease the limits on all-federal spending, which the President has demanded, Thornberry said it was “possible.” However, he quickly asked whether “all the players want to find an answer? Or do some players see it to their political benefit to provoke a dramatic confrontation?” Thornberry said the NDAA “is basically the policy bill” and to threaten to veto it was “just political hysterics … in order to provoke confrontation.” Thornberry said Obama is “trying [to] leverage our military to get more spending for his domestic priorities, [which] is a very dangerous political strategy, in this volatile, complex world we live in.” (Atlantic Council video of speech.)