The House voted 299-120 to pass a new defense authorization bill with 77 Democrats voting along with all but 16 Republicans. This vote was a purely political stunt with many voting in favor to help their own re-election bids as nothing says strong defense like approving spending for weapons and bases we do not need. In fact the budget exceeds the what the Pentagon even asked for. Some specifics:
· In clear opposition to the President’s plans and budget, the House defense bill calls for funds to keep a force of 68,000 troops in Afghanistan through 2014. Neither the DoD nor the American people support this measure.
· The bill calls for development of an East Coast missile defense system on top of the additional funds to the $30Billion spent on the West Coast missile defense system. To date, $150Billion has been spent and the House wants another $44Billion for a system that Joint Chief Chairman Army General Martin Dempsey says is unnecessary.
· A halt on base closings that the Pentagon has already approved. Nothing says local politics better than a Congressman fighting the closure of a local base.
· The bill ignores a ruling Wednesday by a federal judge striking down an unconstitutional provision that allowed the government to detain without trial suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens.
· Clearly going where no House bill should go, the bill would prohibit same-sex marriages on military installations. Obviously still smarting from the DADT repeal, House Republicans use this bill to push a conservative religion/conservative politics position.
· Add it all up and you have a Republican House that has at best ignored, at worst reneged on the agreement reached last year when the not-so-super-committee failed to come up with a solution following the debt ceiling debate.
This bill has no hope of going anywhere. Harry Reid will use his pocket veto to make sure it dies in the Senate sparing the President from having to veto the bill and suffer political attacks from the right and Romney that he is against the troops. A hollow charge, nonetheless, it denies Boehner his pulpit too. What the bill does show is that the House GOP has no regard to the wishes of the American people, does not put their money, or should I say our money, where its mouth is with regards to spending cuts, believes it should dictate social policy to the Armed Forces, and that Republicans and Democrats will fight for local constituents in lieu of national needs.
Well done Boehner, Cantor, et al for wasting more American taxpayer money on a bill that is going nowhere, a bill that ignores the wishes of the American people, a bill that is unconstitutional, a bill that caves to social conservatives, and a bill that violates your own agreement from last year. Well done. Well done indeed.