Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hagel to Ryan: Obama never consulted me about Defense bill veto

During a House Budget Committee hearing on Wednesday, Committee chairman Paul Ryan asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel the following questions:
"Last week, the House passed the military construction appropriations bill by a vote of 421-4. The administration then released a statement of administration policy saying that, 'Unless this bill passes the congress in the context of an overall budget framework' - meaning, one that's supports the President's increase in non-defense discretionary spending - 'the President's senior advisers would recommend a veto.' We're meeting the number that was requested by the administration. Are you among the senior advisers recommending a veto on that bill? And, the second followup is: Today the House is marking up the DOD appropriations bill, again, basically meeting the administration's number. Are you going to recommend a veto of that one as well?"
The White House's complete statement is as follows: "Unless this bill passes the Congress in the context of an overall budget framework that supports our recovery and enables sufficient investments in education, infrastructure, innovation and national security for our economy to compete in the future, the President’s senior advisers would recommend that he veto H.R. 2216 and any other legislation that implements the House Republican Budget framework."

Mr. Ryan, in his question to Mr. Hagel, pointed out that the House Military appropriations bills are in sync with the President's defense budget numbers. But of course - as was the case when the President threatened to veto any efforts by Congressional Republicans to do away with his sequestration mandate - in Obama's world, it's either my way or the highway, and politics as usual.

Mr. Hagel responded to Mr. Ryan's questions as follows:
"First, Mr. Chairman, I have not been asked for my opinion on whether the President should veto the bill or not. Um, my, um, as you know, [my] responsibility is this department and that’s where I stay focused. If I’m asked for my thoughts on the overall budget, then I’ll give them to him, but I have not been asked."
Interesting: Despite the fact that it is the Defense Secretary who is largely responsible for allocating Defense funds, Secretary Hagel was never consulted about the President's plans to veto the House defense appropriations bill.

It should be noted, however, that Mr. Hagel stated in September of 2011 that the defense budget is "bloated". This was several months after Obama had already announced $400 billion in defense cuts. Hence, even if the House bill is in sync with Obama's military budget numbers, it is likely still over bloated in Hagel's eyes, and in need of additional trimming - hence there was no need to consult with Hagel over the matter. Moreover, if the House defense appropriations bill meets the President's current numbers, that likely means Obama will feel compelled to change his numbers and seek additional defense spending cuts - which makes the need for consultation on the House bill totally unnecessary. Heh.....