There comes a time when a politician, regardless of which side of the aisle he happens to be on, must put aside his party loyalty and vote in the best interests of the United States. The next few days will reveal whether or not there are enough Democrats in Congress with the guts to put national defense above partisan politics.
At issue is the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that would use the Overseas Contingency Operations fund to get around spending caps. Military chiefs from all branches of the armed forces have testified that funding the Pentagon within the restraints of the Budget Control Act would put American lives in danger.
Democrats, Republicans, and President Obama himself all agree that we must push past these spending caps, many of which are entirely arbitrary. The president has asked Congress for $612 billion in defense funding, and that’s exactly what the NDAA would authorize. Instead of accepting this with grace, Obama wants to use it as a political ploy to increase domestic spending. If he doesn’t get more funding for the EPA, the IRS, Obamacare, transportation, and education, he will veto the NDAA as it is currently written.
“Holding the NDAA hostage would be a deliberate and cynical failure to meet our constitutional duty to provide for the common defense,” said Senator John McCain.
Right he is. The federal government is tasked with ensuring our national security above and before all else. This bill, which would give the troops a much-needed raise, strengthen our ability to fend off cyber-attacks, and add resources needed to fight ISIS, should be handled separately from concerns about domestic spending. Nothing should ever take priority over the military. Especially not when we are facing some of our most extraordinary challenges overseas.
When Homeland Security funding was on the table against executive amnesty, Democrats were suddenly cognizant of the importance of national security. It is only when given a political opportunity to exploit the troops that they forget their ballyhooed patriotism of two months ago. They are still seething over their November losses, and they want to make the next two years as difficult for Republicans as they can. If our military has to suffer the consequences, that’s no skin off their backs. Most of them would probably like to slash the defense budget in half and funnel the money towards food stamps. They know where their bread is buttered.
President Obama, who seems to actually believe that climate change is the biggest threat facing the U.S., is perfectly willing to veto a bill that puts the Pentagon above Obamacare. His grand vision for the remainder of his term seems to include ignoring the real threats in the world and crossing his fingers for peace. He wants to wait out the clock and pass the whole mess to someone better qualified.
That day can’t come soon enough. In the meantime, however, our troops desperately need money. If it has to be given to them with “gimmickry,” then that’s what has to be done. Abolish the spending caps as you move into appropriations. For now, pass this bill and give our military the financial support it needs to retain superiority.