The Obama administration announced on Monday that President Obama would veto a defense authorization bill if Congress does not agree with his plan to close down Guantanamo Bay. A report published by Breitbart says White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters during the daily White House press briefing that the House funding bill would be vetoed “principally because…of the irresponsible way that it funds our national defense priorities, but also because of the efforts to prevent the closure [of] the prison at Guantanamo Bay.” He also promised that Democrats would uphold Obama’s veto, and the defense bill would die.
This announcement raises concerns among many who are concerned with the growing terror threat, recent Russian and Chinese intervention in Syria, and moves by Iran to expand its military presence in the region. Critics say this move proves President Obama is more concerned with pushing his leftist policies than he is with US national security. Closing Guantanamo before leaving office is reportedly a priority for the president. Some speculate that Obama may even return Guantanamo Bay to Cuba before he goes.
Fresh on the heels of the announcement comes reports of a weekend encounter by American fighter pilots with Russian jets. The Department of Defense confirmed at least one encounter between a Russian aircraft and a US plane over Syria, which forced the US plane to change course to avoid a possible conflict. Military experts have expressed concern over a potential accidental clash between US and Russian forces in the area. The UK has reportedly given its pilots permission to shoot down Russian jets over Iraq, a move that prompted the Russians to summon Britain’s attache to explain the reports. The UK has deemed the reports “inaccurate.”
Given the current geopolitical situation and the rise of ISIS, playing politics with defense spending seems to be contrary to US national security interests. However, according to the Breitbart report, Obama has little fear of Republicans in light of the fact that the GOP has backed down on their promise to cut funding for Obamacare and Planned Parenthood. Obama reportedly feels confident that Republicans will cave on the Guantanamo issue out of fear their constituents would blame them for any cuts in defense spending.
Considering Obama has only vetoed a total of four bills since taking office, he may be correct in his calculations. The lack of vetoes shows the GOP is reluctant to send bills to the president that he is not likely to sign. Ben Shapiro, the author of the Breitbart report, wrote that, “Shutting down America’s defense funding would be a crowning achievement for a president who cares more about weakening America’s role in the world than defending her citizens.”